By Ruzanna Khachatrian and Astghik Bedevian
President Robert Kocharian has decided to reappoint Aghvan Hovsepian as Armenia’s prosecutor-general for a six-year term and asked parliament to approve the move, it emerged on Monday.
Hovsepian and his predecessors were until now named by the head of state without a parliamentary confirmation. The National Assembly was given the authority to block or endorse such appointments as part of a reform of the Armenian constitution enacted in 2005.
The assembly is expected to begin debating the presidential nomination on Tuesday and vote on it later this week. Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian told RFE/RL that his Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), which effectively controls the majority of parliament seats, will vote for Hovsepian’s reappointment.
Another HHK leader, parliament speaker Tigran Torosian, confirmed this at a news conference. “A period of important reforms has begun at the Prosecutor-General’s Office,” he said. “I believe it is essential that those reforms continue and have a productive end.”
The parliament faction of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), a junior partner in the HHK-led ruling coalition, has yet to formulate its position on Hovsepian’s candidacy. “We will hear the report to be presented by him,” one of the Dashnaktsutyun leaders, Vahan Hovannisian, told RFE/RL. “I think we will also have a meeting [with Hovsepian.]”
Hovannisian acknowledged that his party is not fully satisfied with Hovsepian’s track record, pointing to law-enforcement authorities’ failure to solve most of the high-profile shootings regularly registered in Armenia. “There is no state institution in Armenia with a rosy track record,” he said. “We see positive things, but don’t see results in many of those investigations.”
Torosian, for his part, expressed hope that Hovsepian will provide relevant explanations to lawmakers. “I hope that Mr. Hovsepian will give full answers to such questions,” he said.
Hovsepian, 54, is known as a staunch loyalist of Kocharian with extensive business interests and political ambitions. He was first appointed as prosecutor-general in 1998 but was forced to step down in the wake of the October 1999 terrorist attack on the Armenian parliament. Kocharian reinstated him as the country’s chief prosecutor in 2004.