By Karine Kalantarian
Bako Sahakian, Nagorno-Karabakh’s president-elect, declined to shed light Friday on the composition of his cabinet, saying he has not yet started forming it.
“No discussions are being held on the next government at the moment,” he told RFE/RL by phone. “We are getting ready for the September 7 inauguration ceremony.”
Sahakian swept to a landslide victory in the July 19 presidential election, capitalizing on the backing of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic’s outgoing President Arkady Ghukasian and four main political parties. Two of those parties have been in opposition to Ghukasian.
The broad-based support prompted suggestions that the new Karabakh leader could share power with his diverse political allies. But he has so far been tight-lipped about the likely make-up of his cabinet.
“Right now we are reviewing the work which we did during the election campaign,” said Sahakian. “We received about 3,000 letters. Two working groups are looking into those letters.”
Sahakian, who headed Karabakh’s main security agency until recently, said during the election campaign that, if elected, he will ensure continuity in policies pursued by Ghukasian. He said on Friday that one of his first tasks will be to tackle “new forms of bureaucratic red tape” and pay particular attention to impoverished rural communities.
According to Karlen Avetisian, the NKR’s permanent representative to Yerevan, Sahakian will not change the Karabakh Armenians’ position on the conflict with Azerbaijan.
The authorities in Stepanakert are increasingly frustrated with their lack of direct involvement in the ongoing Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks. Ghukasian, in power since 1997, has also voiced misgivings about international mediators’ existing peace proposals.
Commenting on Ghukasian’s decade-long track record, Avetisian singled out his role in what he described as Karabakh’s successful “transition from semi-military to civilian rule.” “This has been a difficult and dangerous process,” Avetisian told a news conference. “If it hadn’t happened, we could have met the fate of Chechnya.”