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Armenian Coalition Party Mum On Offer To Join Opposition


Prosperous Armenia Party leader Gagik Tsarukian in parliament in May 2011

Prosperous Armenia Party leader Gagik Tsarukian in parliament in May 2011

YEREVAN -- A key member of Armenia's three-party governing coalition has remained noncommittal over an offer of cooperation from ex-President Levon Ter-Petrossian at the latest rally of his main opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK), RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

In an extraordinary reversal, Ter-Petrossian expressed his readiness to cooperate with pro-government tycoon Gagik Tsarukian's Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) if it leaves the ruling coalition and openly challenges current President Serzh Sarkisian, the leader of the main ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK).

"I am convinced that cooperation between the HAK and the BHK could radically change the configuration of political forces and become a serious guarantee for the restoration of constitutional order and the implementation of necessary reforms stemming from the people's interests," Ter-Petrossian said on November 25 in Yerevan. "It could at the same time serve as a basis for the formation of a broader coalition of opposition forces."

Contacted by RFE/RL on November 28, BHK spokesman Khachik Galstian said the party's leader was still outside Armenia and that the BHK could not officially reply to Ter-Petrossian's statement in his absence.

Tsarukian left for vacation in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates at the end of last week. His party's spokesman did not say when he is due to return to Armenia.

Despite the absence of a formal response, some BHK members have already challenged the feasibility of cooperating with Ter-Petrossian's opposition bloc.

Senior BHK lawmaker Vartan Bostanjian told RFE/RL that such cooperation was difficult to imagine.

"We now have commitments to cooperate as a coalition partner, and I think we have no problems in connection with the upcoming elections or objectives in general," he said.

Armenian media, meanwhile, have been speculating about growing differences between the BHK and its senior coalition partner, Sarkisian's HHK.

The recent victory of a BHK-backed candidate in a mayoral election in the small northern provincial town of Ijevan against the incumbent -- who enjoyed the backing of the HHK -- only fueled talk about possible rifts between the two allies in the run-up to next year's parliamentary elections.

Meanwhile, HHK spokesman Eduard Sharmazanov described Ter-Petrossian's overtures to the BHK as a "political farce," but abstained from further comments. He told RFE/RL that the HHK does not interfere with the affairs of the BHK and the HAK.
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