ARF Says It Wants Greater Say in Government

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The Armenian Revolutionary Federation will join Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisians new cabinet only if it is given a greater say in how Armenia’should be governed, a leader of the influential party said on Tuesday. ARF Bureau chairman Hrant Markarian said it does not want to be an appendage of Sarkisians and the Republican Party and will not be bribed by several ministerial posts. Markarian also made it clear that his party will not necessarily endorse Sarkisians presidential bid even if it chooses to stay in government. Markarian denied media reports that the ARF has already agreed to take up three ministerial portfolios in Armenia’s new governing coalition. There is no such agreement, he told RFE/RL in an interview. The negotiations are taking longer than expected not because of haggling over portfolios or other posts. Negotiations center on more important issues. You may join a government for different reasons, continued the Iranian-born politician. You may simply be bribed by a few portfolios to join that government as an appendage. You may also join it as a partner after ascertaining policies, rights, and responsibilities. We are in favor of the latter approach. This is why [the negotiations] are dragging on, he said. The ARF wants Sarkisian to incorporate some the partys policies into the new government. We are an independent party guided by our own decisions, he said. We cannot sacrifice that independence for the sake of some agreemen’s. Asked whether the party still intends to have its own presidential candidate, Markarian said: Anything is possible.

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