YEREVAN (RFE/RL)—The Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK), the second largest party in parliament, will not join a new government which is currently being formed by President Serzh Sarkisian, a senior BHK figure insisted on Wednesday.
“No, that is not possible,” Naira Zohrabian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “There is and there can be no such issue on Prosperous Armenia’s agenda.”
Sarkisian, who won a second term in office in February, is due to form his new cabinet by May 10. He reappointed Tigran Sarkisian as prime minister late last month.
There has been speculation in the Armenian media that the BHK could return to the government nearly one year after pulling out of it. The BHK’s exit was widely regarded as a prelude to Party chief Gagik Tsarukian’s participation in the February 2013 presidential election. However, the tycoon unexpectedly withdrew from the presidential race in December for still unclear reasons.
According to Zohrabian, the BHK has not even negotiated with the president on the possibility of a new power-sharing deal. She said Tigran Sargsyan’s reappointment is enough of a reason for Tsarukian’s party not to rejoin the governing coalition.
“After Tigran Sargsyan, whose economic policy has left the country in this situation, was appointed as prime minister, how can you imagine the BHK holding consultations on being part of the coalition government?” added Zohrabian.
The BHK has strongly criticized the government’s economic record during its campaign for the May 5 mayoral elections in Yerevan. Zohrabian, former Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian and other senior BHK members reiterated that criticism as they met voters in the city’s southern Shengavit district on Wednesday.
One angry local resident countered that the BHK was part of the government from 2007-2012 and is therefore also responsible for the country’s economic woes. “We never had a majority. We didn’t have full control over the government,” replied Zohrabian.
Former Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian last week urged the Prosperous Armenia Party, of which he is a senior member, to officially declare itself an opposition political force.
“What Prosperous Armenia is doing today is very close to the classical definition of opposition,” Oskanian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). “But since we created hurdles for ourselves … that has created complications.”
“If we make such clarifications, I think a lot will change in our political field,” he said.
The BHK’s official transformation into an opposition force could be resisted by wealthy businessmen affiliated with the influential party. Analysts believe that they are reluctant to openly challenge the government for fear of losing their business assets.
Several BHK-affiliated entrepreneurs holding seats in the Armenian parliament attended Sarkisian’s inauguration for a second term in office April 9. Tsarukian, Oskanian and most of the other BHK parliamentarians were absent from the ceremony.
Asked whether his proposal will meet with resistance from other senior BHK figures, Oskanian said, “I know that there are different views within the party, which is very natural.” The party leadership will discuss the proposal and make a political decision, he added.
Oskanian also insisted that Tsarukian, who is one of the country’s richest men, does not fear a politically motivated government crackdown on his companies. “I don’t think so,” said the former minister. “What should he be afraid of? We should get that out of our mind. The authorities wish we were afraid.
“When political activities, dissent and pluralism are protected by the constitution, why should we be afraid? It’s the authorities that should worry that if they abuse their levers they could be held accountable in case of regime change.”