By Atom Markarian
Hrant Bagratian, Armenia’s former prime minister, on Friday confirmed his strong support for the consolidation of political groups supporting former president Levon Ter-Petrosian with a view towards next year’s elections.
Ter-Petrosian’s Armenian Pan-National Movement (HHSh) and several small opposition parties, including Bagratian’s Azatutyun (Freedom), have been negotiating on the possibility of putting forward common candidates for the presidential and parliamentary elections of 2003. They have yet to decide whether to form an electoral alliance or a new party.
“I personally believe that we should get together in the form of an alliance,” Bagratian told reporters. He said the re-unification of the center-right forces, which had ruled the country for eight years, would give voters a viable alternative to the current “nationalist and socialist authorities.”
HHSh sources told RFE/RL last week that the ongoing talks were initiated by Ter-Petrosian. However, it is not clear whether the 57-year-old ex-president, who has avoided any contacts with the media for the past four years, has reelection plans.
According to Bagratian, the pro-Ter-Petrosian forces have “three or four potentially serious candidates” who are able to challenge the incumbent President Robert Kocharian. But he declined to name any of them.