By Karine Kalantarian
Justice Minister David Harutiunian reaffirmed on Wednesday his plans to become more actively involved in political processes in Armenia, which may well take the form of his participation in next year’s parliamentary elections.
“Do I aim to engage in politics? Yes, I do,” he said. “Do I have [political] plans? Yes, I do.”
Speaking to RFE/RL in March, Harutiunian admitted that he is considering “returning to parliament.” But he would not be drawn, both then and now, on details of his possible comeback which looks even more likely after the resignation on Tuesday of Ara Saghatelian, his press secretary and confidante. “I have some plans relating to the field of mass media and am confident that they will prove useful for the development of the entire field,” Saghatelian told RFE/RL without elaborating.
The move sparked speculation that Saghatelian quit the Ministry of Justice to organize and manage Harutiunian’s pre-election activities. Harutiunian appeared to implicitly confirm this. “I can’t refute any comments,” he said.
“To be an independent political force one needs to have a team,” added Harutiunian. “That I do have a team is out of question. I think the society or any political force does not doubt that.”
Despite his relatively young age, the 43-year-old minister is one the longest serving members of President Robert Kocharian’s cabinet. He is believed to have had considerable influence on Armenia’s courts, notorious for their lack of independence, throughout his eight-year 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. It remains to be seen whether he will dare to challenge Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian if the country’s second most powerful man officially confirms his widely anticipated participation in the 2008 presidential ballot.