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Dashnak Leader Implies Kocharian Election Bid Still Moot Point


Amenia -- Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian (R) and his predecessor Robert Kocharian, undated

Amenia -- Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian (R) and his predecessor Robert Kocharian, undated

Vahan Hovannisian, who heads Dashnaktsutyun’s parliamentary faction, said dismissively that Kocharian had not turned to the party for becoming a candidate in the May 2012 parliamentary vote, thus implying that his participation now remains a moot point.

“We have not received any such application or offer [from Kocharian], therefore we need not answer this question as we haven’t had any such discussion,” said Hovannisian in reply to a question posed by RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Armenia -- Vahan Hovannisian, a leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation party, undated

Speculation about Kocharian’s possible return to active politics intensified last weekend in the wake of the announcement made in Russia that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and President Dmitry Medvedev would exchange their offices after next year’s presidential election.

In Armenia where Russia’s influence remains strong due to deep political, economic and military bonds and where the political establishment often looks up to the “Elder Brother” in the north the kind of development in the Kremlin could not but trigger a storm in the form of predictions of similar scenarios, with ex-president Kocharian said to be contemplating a bid to supplant his successor Serzh Sarkisian in the presidential vote slated for 2013 or become Armenia’s next prime minister.

In this view, some analysts did not exclude Kocharian’s attempt to consolidate his political influence by means of winning a sizable representation in the National Assembly at next year’s legislative polls.

The talk about the ex-president’s ambitions have only been fueled by a recent media interview by Vartan Oskanian, a former foreign minister and Kocharian’s close associate, in which he described Kocharian’s participation in parliamentary elections as ‘probable’.

Analysts have also speculated that Kocharian’s possible pressure may force Sarkisian and his current political opponent Levon Ter-Petrosian, who now seem to be on the opposite sides of the political fence, to start to move closer towards each other in the run-up to the polls.

Negotiating teams representing the governing coalition led by Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) and the Ter-Petrosian-led opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) held several rounds of formal talks in July and August around the political future of the country before the opposition alliance suspended its participation over the arrest of a group of its young activists.

At the latest HAK rally in Yerevan on Friday, Ter-Petrosian offered a “reasonable” compromise to Armenia’s current political leadership, signaling his readiness to reconsider his demands for snap presidential and parliamentary elections to be held by the end of the year. At the same time, the opposition leader urged his supporters to turn out in much larger numbers at the next rally scheduled for September 30 as part of the opposition strategy to ratchet up pressure on the authorities through larger and more frequent gatherings.

Meanwhile, the Dashnak representative voiced skepticism about any possible concessions from Sarkisian to Ter-Petrosian in the period until the next elections.

“Is the opposition pressure on him [Sarkisian] so strong? I don’t think so,” commented Hovannisian, accentuating Ter-Petrosian’s words at the rally that they weren’t “maximalists.”

“If you say you are not a maximalist, then be so kind as to explain in which particular matter you are ready to make concessions, whether it is in the matter of holding snap elections or not… As soon as you say it, let’s see how many people will come to your next rally,” Dashnak leader commented.
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