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Armenian Republicans Open To Cooperation With Kocharian


Armenia - Eduard Sharmazanov, spokesman for the ruling Republican Party, at a news conference in Yerevan, 14May2017.

A senior member of the former ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) said on Friday that it stands ready to join forces with former President Robert Kocharian following his return to active politics.

“In terms of geopolitics and the value system, we can cooperate with the second president as well, and not only with him but also various political forces,” Eduard Sharmazanov, the chief HHK spokesman, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “That would be not against the revolution, as some want to present, but for the security of Armenia and Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh).”

“But this is my personal view,” said Sharmazanov. “We have not yet held official discussions.”

Kocharian announced his political comeback in a televised interview aired late on Thursday. He strongly criticized Armenia’s new government which was instrumental in criminal charges brought against him late last month. Kocharian accused the government of being incompetent, endangering Armenia’s national security and having no idea how to improve the economic situation in the country.

Sharmazanov said Kocharian’s remarks left him with the impression that the HHK and the ex-president have “very similar views” on challenges facing Armenia. “We would be united by a state ideology and the need to more effectively confront security challenges,” he said.

Kocharian served as president for ten years before handing over power in 2008 to his longtime ally Serzh Sarkisian, who remains the top HHK leader. The two Karabakh-born men became increasingly estranged in the following years, with Kocharian repeatedly criticizing the Sarkisian administration’s economic policies. Observers also linked him with attempts by other political forces, notably Gagik Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party, to undercut or even unseat Sarkisian.

Sharmazanov downplayed the rift between the two ex-presidents, saying that the HHK strongly supported Kocharian when he was in power. Sarkisian, he said, is open to working together with “all healthy forces.” “There is no doubt about Robert Kocharian is a healthy force,” added the HHK representative.

A leader of another major party, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), likewise did not rule out its cooperation with Kocharian when he spoke to RFE/RL’s Armenian service earlier this week. Dashnaktsutyun was allied to Kocharian during his rule and went on to cut power-sharing deals with Sarkisian. It is also represented in the current government by two ministers.

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