By Emil Danielyan
President Robert Kocharian chaired on Friday what appeared to be a first-ever official meeting of Armenia’s National Security Council held during his decade-long presidency.
The consultative body, which is tasked with advising the head of state on natural security, comprises key government ministers as well as the chairmen of the National Assembly and the Constitutional Court. It used to meet regularly under Kocharian’s predecessor, Levon Ter-Petrosian, to discuss key issues facing Armenia.
The most famous of those meetings, held in January 1998 and attended by the then leaders of Nagorno-Karabakh, focused on whether Armenia should accept an internationally sponsored peace plan on Karabakh strongly advocated by Ter-Petrosian. The two-day heated discussions exposed serious disagreements on the issue within the Armenian leadership and forced Ter-Petrosian to step down just weeks later. The Security Council is not known to have met since then.
Kocharian’s office said in a statement that its latest meeting was devoted to Armenia’s new military doctrine which is expected to be signed by the outgoing president soon. The statement said members of the council voiced their full backing for the document, the main points of which were presented by Defense Minister Mikael Harutiunian.
The Security Council meeting highlighted a busier-than-usual work schedule maintained by Kocharian of late. The Armenian leader summons senior government officials to his office and issues them with instructions, visits various parts of the country and makes other public appearances on a virtually daily basis these days. Despite his impending exit from power, he has also been far more active and outspoken than his likely successor, Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian, in responding to Ter-Petrosian’s harsh criticism of the current Armenian leadership. Ter-Petrosian is expected to be Sarkisian’s main challenger in next February’s presidential election.
Some local commentators say Kocharian is thereby trying to underscore his importance to Sarkisian and make sure that he is not perceived as a lame duck president by Armenia’s ruling elite.
(Presidential press service photo)