by Tatevik Shahunyan
The viewpoints of the non-coalition four (Armenian National Congress, ARFD, Heritage and Prosperous Armenia Party) regarding cooperation with the second president of Armenia, Robert Kocharyan, sharply differ.
Gagik Tsarukian's Prosperous Armenia Party (PAP) on Tuesday praised former President Robert Kocharian's latest criticism of the government and said the country's leading opposition forces should be ready to cooperate with him.
"I welcome it and am happy that the second president, who has long experience in governing Armenia and is very familiar with the state of affairs, is making practically the same evaluations as the quartet," Stepan Markarian, a senior PAP lawmaker, said, referring to the PAP and its three opposition allies: the Armenian National Congress (ANC) and the Heritage and ARFD.
Markarian said that he sees a real possibility of cooperation between Kocharian the four parties challenging President Serzh Sarkisian. "But this is a matter of the future," he told RFE/RL's Armenian service (Azatutyun.am). "I think that we should cooperate with anyone who shares the quartet's views and efforts to address problems."
In his most recent public statement made on Monday, Kocharian essentially voiced support for a list of 12 demands to Sarkisian that was issued by the opposition quartet earlier this month. In a further sign of his imminent return to politics, the ex-president also intensified his criticism of the Sarkisian administration’s economic policies.
The PAP's positive reaction will stoke speculation about Tsarukian's party being the main support base of Kocharian. The PAP leader became one of Armenia's richest men during his rule.
The opposition ANC and Heritage are extremely unlikely to openly collaborate with Kocharian not least because of his decisive role in a deadly crackdown on the opposition that followed the disputed presidential election of February 2008. Levon Ter-Petrosian, another former president leading the ANC was the main opposition candidate in that ballot.
Aram Manukian, a senior ANC member dismissed Kocharian's latest remarks. "I have long stopped regarding him as a politician," he said, adding that this is the dominant view within the ANC.