By Anush Dashtents
Raffi Hovannisian, the US-born former foreign minister of Armenia, claimed on Friday that President Robert Kocharian has not honored a promise to sign a decree officially considering him to have been an Armenian national for the past ten years. Hovannisian said he is not satisfied with the August 10 presidential decree granting him Armenian citizenship because it was not backdated to 1991, the time when he first applied for one.
“I can only regret that Mr. President did not keep his word on this issue,” he told reporters, adding that the pledge to backdate the decision was made by Kocharian in 1998, shortly after he took office.
Hovannisian, who was independent Armenia’s first foreign minister, formally applied for Armenian citizenship last April after surrendering his US passport. Earlier this month he accused the authorities of dragging their feet over the request.
Officials at the presidential administration said the delay was caused by Hovannisian’s insistence on a ten-year nationality – something which would allow him stand in the next presidential election. They said the demand is not legal.
The country’s constitution stipulates that only a person who has been an Armenian citizen and has “permanently” resided in the country for the ten preceding years can run for president.
Hovannisian, who has been based in Yerevan since 1989, became independent Armenia’s first foreign minister in January 1992 and was removed from the post by then President Levon Ter-Petrossian later that year. He has been the founding president of a private think-tank in Yerevan since 1994.