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Return To Government ‘Not On Tsarukian’s Agenda’


Armenia - Businessman Gagik Tsarukian attends a meeting between President Serzh Sarkisian and Armenian parliament leaders in Yerevan, 12Jan2018.

Businessman Gagik Tsarukian and his Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) have not yet been offered to join a new government that will be formed by the ruling Republican Party (HHK) next month, a senior BHK figure insisted on Thursday.

The Armenian parliament is due to elect a new prime minister on April 17, eight days after President Serzh Sarkisian completes his final term. The premier will in turn have 15 days to form their cabinet.

The Yerevan daily “Hraparak” claimed that Sarkisian, who is widely expected to become prime minister, may well offer the BHK, which is the dominant component of Tsarukian’s parliamentary alliance, to join a new, more broad-based governing coalition.

“Right now there are no such discussions,” Naira Zohrabian, the BHK’s secretary general, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “I personally have no such information. I think that I, as the party’s secretary general, would definitely know if such a discussion was planned for today or tomorrow.”

Asked how Tsarukian and his allies would react to a possible offer to take up ministerial posts, Zohrabian said: “Let’s not talk with ‘ifs.’ There is no such issue on our agenda at the moment.”

The Tsarukian Bloc controls 31 seats in Armenia’s 105-member National Assembly, making it the second largest parliamentary force. The BHK was represented in the Sarkisian government by three ministers until 2012.

The ruling HHK’s parliamentary leader, Vahram Baghdasarian, also said that the outgoing president’s party has not discussed a new power-sharing agreement with Tsarukian. Still, he would not rule out the possibility of such a deal.

The HHK currently has such an arrangement only with the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun). Arsen Hambardzumian, a Dashnaktsutyun leader, asserted on Thursday that Tsarukian’s return to the government would weaken the country’s current leadership. Any efficient government needs to face “strong opposition,” he said.

Despite claiming to be in opposition to the government, Tsarukian and his associates refrain from attacking Sarkisian or voting against key government bills. Some Tsarukian Bloc lawmakers have openly stated that they support Sarkisian’s apparent plans to become prime minister.

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