By Emil DanielyanFormer President Robert Kocharian said he has no plans to return to active politics anytime soon and again defended his track record in office during a rare public appearance on Monday.
Kocharian has been rumored to be plotting a political comeback ever since he completed his second and final term in office in April. The Armenian pro-opposition press has been rife with speculation that he is keen to replace the reformist Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian.
Kocharian brushed aside the speculation as he and President Serzh Sarkisian (no relation to Tigran) jointly inaugurated a new street and tunnel bridge in central Yerevan built with the financial assistance of a U.S. billionaire of Armenian descent.
“I have not been bored of the freedom which I gained [in April,]” Armenian news agencies quoted Kocharian as telling reporters. “I am wearing a necktie for the second time in six months,” he said, adding that he himself will make a statement if he decides to end his political retirement.
Kocharian also scoffed at opposition claims that he bequeathed a heavy legacy to President Sarkisian which is hampering the restoration of political stability in Armenia undermined by last February’s disputed presidential election. “It is impossible to get rid of that legacy because that [legacy] is an established Armenia, a refurbished Yerevan, a rebuilt Gyumri, this motorway, a system of civil service which was created during those years and which employs numerous professionals,” he said.
The Armenian opposition led by the country’s first President Levon Ter-Petrosian says Kocharian is chiefly responsible for the deaths of ten people in the post-election clashes between security forces and opposition protesters demanding a re-run of the February 19 election. Kocharian and his successor point the finger at the opposition, however, saying that its protests in Yerevan were part of an attempted coup d’etat.