Kocharian Accepts Primiership Nomination

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan–Reuter)Levon Ter-Petrosyan appointed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic President Robert Kocharian as the new prime minister of Armenia Thursday.

Kocharian–43–was elected Karabakh president in 1996 and is a firm supporter of Karabakh independence.

Kocharian’s press secretary quoted Ter-Petrosyan as saying that such an appointment would serve the economic and security interests of both Armenia and Karabakh.

Karabakh’s National Security Council convened an emergency session to address Kocharian’s appointment–and following lengthy discussion–recommended that Kocharian accept Ter-Petrosyan’s offer.

Kocharian’s cabinet and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic National Assembly also held similar sessions Thursday and all positively evaluated Kocharian appointment.

In remarks to the National Assembly–Kocharian stated that this appointment could be mutually beneficial to the economic and security interests of both Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.

Kocharian added that his appointment did not mean that he would abandon Karabakh–and reiterated his pre-election campaign commitment of strengthening the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic’s statehood and defense capabilities.

Rumors about Kocharian’s appointment surfaced Wednesday when sources at Armenia’s National Assembly reported that he was being considered the as top contender in Ter-Petrosyan’s search for a new prime minister.

Kocharian’s appointment comes weeks after Prime Minister Armen Sarkissian resigned–citing health reason and during a telephone press conference informed the public of his decision.

Sarkissian is currently in London recovering from surgery.

Kocharian was born on August 31–1954 in Stepanakert. After graduating high school he began working as a fitter at the Stepanakert Electric-Technical plant.

From 1972 to 1974 Kocharian served in the Soviet Army. In 1982 he graduated from electrical engineering department of the Yerevan Polytechnic Institute.

Beginning in 1980 he held several positions in Communist youth organization–the Komsomol and various party offices of Nagorno Karabakh.

At the beginning of the Karabakh movement he worked as a secretary of the communist committee at the Karabakh silk factory.

Since February 1988 and the rise of the Nagorno-Karabakh liberation struggle–he has been an active participant of the national movement and initially served as a member of the Grung (Crane) committee. Later he founded and led the Unity party.

Kocharian was one of the leaders and initiators of the Nagorno-Karabakh self-defense movement and took part in the defense of the republic at crucial times in Karabakh’s recent military history.

In 1989 Kocharian was elected a deputy of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Armenia and a member of its Presidium.

In 1991–Kocharian was elected to the first parliament of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.From August 1992 to December 1994 Kocharian chaired the state defense committee of Nagorno-Karabakh.

On December 22–1994 Kocharian was elected President of Nagorno-Karabakh Republic by the republic’s Parliament.

On Nov. 24–1996–Kocharian became Karabakh’s first popularly elected president during a nationwide presidential elections–receiving 89 percent of the votes.

He is married and has three children.

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