By Emil Danielyan
Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian has again pointedly declined to rule out his participation in Armenia’s next presidential election due in 2008.
“At the moment I am concentrating on my work,” he said in an interview published in the September edition of the French-Armenian magazine “Nouvelles d’Armenie.” “I know that I still have things to do in this country, and I would like to continue my work.”
“In what form? Only time will tell. So it is too early to talk about this question,” he said.
Oskanian made similar comments in July, responding to reports that he is harboring presidential ambitions and may therefore become actively involved in Armenian politics. The Armenian press has since been awash with rumors that he is now President Robert Kocharian’s preferred successor and might be backed by the Prosperous Armenia party of pro-Kocharian tycoon Gagik Tsarukian for that purpose.
Oskanian’s passionate speech at a recent conference of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) sparked speculation that he is courting the pro-Kocharian nationalist party to back his possible presidential bid. Lragir.am, an online news service, claimed that Dashnaktsutyun is not averse to doing that.
The Syrian-born minister, though one of the longest serving members of Armenia’s government, has until now steered clear of domestic political battles, mainly dealing with foreign affairs and Nagorno-Karabakh peace talks.
Oskanian, who had moved with his family to Armenia from California in 1992, was a U.S. citizen until being chosen by Kocharian to run the Armenian diplomacy in April 1998. He had until then held other senior positions in the Armenian Foreign Ministry.