Former President Robert Kocharian insisted on Thursday that he has not yet decided to return to active politics, ridiculing claims to the contrary made by his predecessor and most bitter foe, Levon Ter-Petrosian.
Kocharian has intensified lingering speculation about his political comeback with a recent series of actions and statements. One of those statements criticized the Armenian government’s handling of the economic crisis. This has led some Armenian commentators to suggest that he is keen to regain a key role in government.
Addressing thousands of supporters that rallied in Yerevan on Tuesday, Ter-Petrosian claimed Kocharian is worried that President Serzh Sarkisian may soon cede power to the Armenian opposition and thus endanger his own future. Using derogatory language, the leader of the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) also said Sarkisian has already neutralized a potential challenge to his rule from Kocharian.
In a statement cited by the Panorama.am news service, Kocharian said he was “really amused” by Ter-Petrosian’s claims echoed by other HAK figures. “In my place, they decide that I am dreaming about returning to politics,” he said. “Then they start fighting against my return. Some time later, after it becomes clear that I have not returned, they rejoice, thinking that their actions have stopped me.”
“If I decide to return to politics I will declare that openly and directly, just as I do everything else,” added the ex-president.
Kocharian also rejected continuing opposition criticism of his track record in power, saying that he was an “effective president” of both Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia. He branded Ter-Petrosian a “weak” and “wretched” leader “living with gossips.”
In his Tuesday speech, Ter-Petrosian said Kocharian would face an international trial for the suppression of the 2008 opposition protests in Yerevan if he were to return to power.