Kocharian Expresses Hope for ARF Reinstatement

PARIS (Gamk)–In remarks during a public gathering Monday evening–visiting Armenian Prime Minister Robert Kocharian expressed hope that the ban on the Armenian Revolutionary Federation would be lifted and the opposition would return to the political arena in the National Assembly.

Kocharian also discussed the ongoing political trials–the so-called "Dro" and "Vahan Hovanessian + 30" cases–stressing that in the absence of evidence of political malintent–those trials should immediately be halted.

The gathering–which was attended by hundreds of French-Armenia’s–was organized by Armenia’s ambassador to France Vahan Papazian and took place in the Nurhan Frengian hall of the St. John the Baptist Armenian Cathedral in Paris.

Kocharian was joined on stage by his entourage–which included Industry and Trade Minister Garnik Nanagoulian–Economy and Finance Minister Armen Darbinian–as well as Deputy Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian–Papazian and Archbishop Gyud Nakkashian–Primate of the French Diocese. French Ambassador to Armenia–Michel LeGrand was also present at the gathering.

In discussing the ongoing controversy surrounding the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict–the prime minister once again reiterated his support for the "package deal" approach to conflict resolution–a view not shared by Levon Ter-Petrosyan who has adamantly pushed for the "step-by-step" approach.

He stressed that the "package deal" would–once and for all–resolve the Karabakh conflict–and would guarantee the security of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

He stressed that the Karabakh question was deep rooted and an historical issue–pointing to Shoushi and the Lachin corridor–which along with other areas are being considered as so-called "occupied territories."

"This is where the danger in the "step-by-step" or gradual approach [to conflict resolution] becomes evident. When the enemy lays claim to our militarily strategic territories–thus feeling strong would use the situation to its own advantage to push its own agenda," stressed Kocharian in defending his position.

"It is a reality that an all encompassing resolution is not easy–in fact it is very difficult. However–the advantages of this approach ["package deal"] is that the sides would know–from the onset–the parameters of any concessions and would be able to posture accordingly," remarked Kocharian who added that concessions were inevitable in any conflict resolution process.

The prime minister also spoke about the ongoing cases pertaining to the September 26–1996 post-election crackdown on opposition leaders and stated that those events harmed both the leadership and the opposition.

He also stressed the importance of foreign investment–an issue he would be discussing with French officials–and discussed the state of Armenia’s economy–society–as well as Diaspora-homeland relations.

In conclusion–the prime minister entertained questions from the audience.

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