The meeting was part of Pashinian’s ongoing consultations with mostly small political groups that will not be represented in Armenia’s new parliament elected on June 20. He told Tsarukian that his government is ready to work with them in confronting challenges facing the country.
According to the official election results, the BHK won just under 4 percent of the vote, failing to clear the 5 percent legal threshold to enter the parliament. It had finished second in the previous parliamentary elections held in 2018, garnering more than 8 percent.
Tsarukian’s party has not yet clarified whether it considers the June 20 vote democratic. The two other, more hardline opposition forces that won seats in the new parliament have rejected the official results as fraudulent.
In his opening remarks at the meeting publicized by his press office, Pashinian said the BHK remains an “influential force” in the domestic political arena despite its election fiasco.
“I would like to hear your views about further political developments, about what we can do to make the extra-parliamentary opposition and the BHK in particular and the government more responsive to each other,” he went on.
Pashinian said the government is open to relevant proposals from those groups. “I don’t think that good ideas are generated only by those who get more votes in parliamentary elections,” he said.
Tsarukian replied vaguely that his party will continue to “stand with the people.”
Tsarukian demanded Pashinian’s resignation in June 2020, accusing the prime minister of incompetence and misrule. Shortly afterwards he was controversially prosecuted on what he called politically motivated charges. He was arrested in September but freed on bail almost one month later.
Like other opposition groups, the BHK blamed Pashinian for Armenia’s defeat in the autumn war in Nagorno-Karabakh and demanded his resignation. It joined late last year a grouping of opposition parties that staged street protests in a bid topple the premier.
Tsarukian and most of his associates kept a low profile and avoided strong verbal attacks on the government this spring, fuelling media speculation about their readiness to strike deals with Pashinian. The BHK leader repeatedly stated during the recent election campaign that he would not join a possible coalition government led by Pashinian as a result of the elections.