A new opposition party to be set up by Vartanian Oskanian will comprise many “prominent figures” and do well in next year’s parliamentary elections, an ally of the former Armenian foreign minister said on Wednesday.
Stepan Markarian expressed confidence that the party will have “serious presence” in Armenia’s next parliament which is due to be elected in April or May 2017.
“I’m sure that there will be quite a few prominent figures in the party,” Markarian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). He declined to name any of them. He said only that he will “closely cooperate” with the new opposition group.
Oskanian announced plans to form the new party in a weekend interview with RFE/RL’s Armenian service. He said that it will strive for significant changes that would end the current “state of stagnation” in the country.
Oskanian, Markarian and several other members of the current parliament officially or unofficially severed their links with the Prosperous Armenian Party (BHK) a year ago after its founding leader, businessman Gagik Tsarukian, retired from politics under strong government pressure. Unlike the new BHK leadership that took over from Tsarukian, they continued to challenge President Serzh Sarkisian.
Oskanian, Markarian and the other dissident members of the BHK’s parliamentary faction are widely regarded as supporters of former President Robert Kocharian, who has increasingly criticized the Sarkisian administration in recent years. Some Armenian commentators have speculated that Oskanian’s party will serve as Kocharian’s new support base.
Markarian refused to be drawn on the ex-president’s alleged links with the party or the reasons why he and his allies failed to further their agenda through the BHK. “Frankly, I wouldn’t like to talk about the BHK,” he said.