By Karine Kalantarian
Armenia’s Justice Minister David Harutiunian admitted on Monday that he is considering contesting next year’s parliamentary elections but ruled out the possibility of forming his own political party for that purpose.
“I won’t rule out the possibility of returning to parliament,” he told RFE/RL in an interview.
A staunch loyalist of President Robert Kocharian, Harutiunian held a seat in the National Assembly until his appointment as justice minister in 1998. He has occupied the post since then, becoming one of the longest serving members of Kocharian’s cabinet. He is believed to have had considerable influence on Armenia’s courts throughout his tenure. Harutiunian’s increased political clout have led some observers to consider him a potential candidate to succeed the Armenian president after his anticipated resignation in 2008.
However, Harutiunian, who is not affiliated with any political group, sought to end such speculation on Monday, making it clear that he will not stand in the 2008 presidential election. “I don’t have the kind of political support base that would enable me aspire to that post in the coming years,” he explained.
The 45-year-old minister is not known to maintain close ties with Kocharian’s most likely successor, Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian, or any of the three parties represented in Armenia’s government. Kocharian’s approaching exit from power is thus raising questions about his political future.
Harutiunian dismissed media reports that he plans to set up his own party ahead of the 2007 parliamentary election, saying that he would only cooperate with one of the existing political groups. “Having said that, I do not envisage any partisan activity in the near future, especially with small parties,” he said. “As for creating a party, that seems to have become a fad. I think that setting up a new party is not necessarily a correct approach. That is done by people who don’t understand things like teamwork and political platform.”
“So I rule out the possibility of creating a new party,” he added.
(Photolur photo: David Harutiunian.)