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Key Presidential Candidate Urges ‘National Dialogue’ In Armenia


Armenia - Former Prime Minister Armen Sarkissian (L) meets with parliament deputies from the opposition Yelk alliance in Yerevan, 9 February 2018.

Armen Sarkissian, the presidential candidate nominated by the ruling Republican Party (HHK), called on Armenia’s leading political and other groups on Thursday to embark on a “dialogue” which he said he is needed for healing serious divisions in the country.

Sarkissian indicated that he will help to launch such a dialogue in case of accepting the HHK nomination and being elected the next president of the republic by the parliament. In that context, he emphasized the fact that he is not affiliated with the party headed by the outgoing President Serzh Sarkisian.

“In our country, all organizations, structures and parties in or outside the National Assembly should start a dialogue,” Sarkissian told reporters. “Or else, our society will become even more divided.”

“I think that national dialogue is essential,” he said. “It’s time to talk because the challenges [facing Armenia] are much greater than we think.”

Sarkissian, who has been Armenia’s ambassador to Britain since 2013, has not detailed those challenges and proposed concrete solutions to them in his public statements made so far.

Sarkissian began consultations with various Armenian parties and other non-governmental organizations late last month after the outgoing president offered him to become the next head of state, who will have mainly ceremonial powers. He met onThursday with Yerevan-based representatives of major Armenian Diaspora charities and leaders of Armenia’s ethnic minorities. The consultations are purportedly aimed at helping him decide whether to run for president.

“I’m not a member of the Republican Party or any other party and I expect that people in the National Assembly or outside it will choose someone [for the post of president] regardless of who has nominated his candidacy,” stressed Sarkissian.

None of the opposition forces has openly voiced support for Sarkissian’s candidacy so far. The opposition Yelk alliance, which has the third largest faction in the parliament, has made clear that its deputies would not vote him. Another opposition group, the Armenian National Congress, has warned that Sarkissian will “legitimize” electoral fraud if he accepts the HHK offer.

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