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By Ruzanna Khachatrian
Two prominent oppositionists who served as Armenia’s premier and foreign minister in the early 1990s do not rule out that they may team up ahead of the next parliamentary elections.

In an RFE/RL interview on Thursday leader of the opposition National-Democratic Union (AZhM) Vazgen Manukian denied that his cooperation with Zharangutyun (Heritage) party leader Raffi Hovannisian is a ‘pro-western bloc established at dictates from abroad’.

Manukian, however, did not rule out that the initiative of the civil forum will ultimately mount to an electoral alliance with Armenia’s ex-foreign minister.

“Only a power change does not solve the problem. It is a necessary but not sufficient condition for the public to become masters of this country,” Manukian, who served as the country’s prime minister in 1990-1991, told RFE/RL on Thursday.

The civil forum will meet on Saturday, with its initiators saying that “the doors will be open for anyone to attend.”

However, neither Manukian, nor Hovannisian gave concrete names of people or forces that will attend the forum.

“I think that almost all of our compatriots want our country to be free, fair, and citizens want to feel not alienated from political processes, they want to rediscover their belonging to the Republic of Armenia,” Hovannisian told RFE/RL.

Manukian said that he and Hovannisian share common views on some fundamental issues, such as democracy, freedom, national issues, including the Karabakh problem.

“We want to establish a structure that would have its own life irrespective of whether Vazgen Manukian and Raffi Hovannisian are in this structure or not,” he said.

Manukian denied that this would be a pro-western alliance.

“Knowing me for so long, can you describe be as pro-western politician?” the AZhM leader said, adding that he can speak both against the West and Russia whenever the interests of Armenia require that. “I don’t need to prove it once more that I am what I am,” Manukian stressed.

“If we participate in elections and seek to establish a bloc I think naturally that we will see it based on cooperation with Raffi Hovannisian plus other political figures. But now this question is not under discussion,” Manukian said.
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