Parliament speaker Hovik Abrahamian insisted late on Thursday that he was not criticized by President Serzh Sarkisian at a meeting of the leadership of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK).
The HHK’s Executive Body headed by Sarkisian met late in the evening to discuss, among other things, the president’s apparent discontent with Republican lawmakers’ failure to support his government during a recent heated debate in the parliament.
The debate a centered on an Audit Chamber report alleging misuse of budgetary funds in procurements handled by various government agencies. Abrahamian effectively backed those allegations in what amounted to an attack on Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian. The latter rejected the report and won the president’s backing for his stance.
Speaking after the HHK meeting, Abrahamian appeared to withdraw his criticism of the government. “There are people, including myself, who made evaluations,” he told reporters. “But they made those evaluations during the debate. It turned out later on that they are not substantiated. Therefore, in order to avoid more such incidents one should prove before submitting reports [in the future] that they correspond to reality.”
In that regard, continued Abrahamian, he proposed to the HHK leadership to make sure that future Audit Chamber reports are scrutinized by the parliament’s standing committees before reaching the National Assembly floor.
The controversy highlighted an uneasy relationship existing between Prime Minister Sarkisian and Abrahamian. Some observers have speculated that the two men will increasingly be fighting against each other to become Serzh Sarkisian’s successors. The head of state will complete his second and final term in office in 2018.
Abrahamian, who previously served as deputy prime minister, strongly denied having presidential ambitions. “I have no such desire,” he said. “Such a desire has not even crossed my mind.”