Prosperous Armenia 2.0: Post-Tsarukyan PAP declares itself opposition

Armenia’s ruling party respects tycoon Gagik Tsarukyan’s decision to quit active politics that he announced at an extraordinary congress of his Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) Thursday.

But President Serzh Sargsyan’s Republican Party of Armenia (RPA), according to its spokesman, yet abstains from assessing the possible impact of the change of BHK leadership on the party’s future policies.

Tsarukyan, who effectively walked away from a decisive showdown with Sargsyan after coming under government pressure last month, told his party that he would no longer be engaged in political activities – something that Sargsyan and the RPA insisted on since mid-February. He said he would not forgive himself if “a single person’s blood was shed.”

Naira Zohrabyan, who was elected to succeed Tsarukyan as party leader, meanwhile, declared that the PAP will be an opposition party.

RPA spokesman Eduard Sharmazanov said the PAP’s previous declared status of being an “alternative” was a “political nonsense”. “You are either government or opposition,” he said. “Now let’s give [the PAP] time to see and understand what initiatives they have.”

Opposition Heritage Party spokesman David Sanasaryan also commented on the PAP’s declaring itself opposition. “Any political force can consider itself to be an alternative,” he told ArmeniaNow. “They [the PAP] made an attempt to position themselves as opposition and had problems. Now they have decided to become opposition, perhaps they have some calculations, it is their right.”

In political analyst Armen Badalyan’s opinion, the PAP has undergone a “qualitative change”. But unless the party changes considerably, he said, it will simply disappear from Armenia’s political arena.

“Using the terminology of political technology, under Gagik Tsarukyan the PAP was a party of one leader, while with Naira Zohrabyan as chairperson it should undergo image changes,” Badalyan told ArmeniaNow.

Many in Armenia believe that what happened to the PAP is a result of huge pressure from the government on party members and primarily its already former leader Gagik Tsarukyan.

Levon Barseghyan, chairman of the Gyumri-based Asparez Journalists Club, wrote on his Facebook account that what happened was a consequence of a “terrorist and predator” policy of the government.

“I feel sorry for those who pinned their hopes on the PAP, those who failed to understand in the course of two or three years that the one created by the regime cannot kill a dragon,” he said.

As the PAP appears to be undergoing policy changes, some of its senior members continue to quit. Among those who announced on Thursday about their decisions to quit the party were Gyumri Mayor Samvel Balasanyan and Abovyan Mayor Karapet Guloyan, the son-in-law of Tsarukyan.

Earlier, Armenia’s former Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian also announced his quitting the PAP.

“The reason for my decision is that the party has failed to fulfill the desire of, I think, the absolute majority of the Armenian people – making radical changes at this stage and not only taking the country out of the crisis, but also putting it on the right and healthy path of development,” Oskanian wrote on his Facebook account.