Five Parties Unite to Form “Justice and Unity”

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Five Armenian parties joined forces to support Acting President and Prime Minister Robert Kocharian in the upcoming presidential election. The new alliance–named "Justice and Unity" and dominated by the Armenian Revolutionary Federation and the Yerkrapah Battalion–said in a statement released today it will stand behind Kocharian’s efforts to "consolidate the entire Armenian nation," resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and establish democracy and social justice.

Leaders of the alliance–which also comprises three other small groups–the Scientific Industrial and Civic Union–the Socialist Union of Armenia and the Ramkavar Party–told reporters it will continue its existence even after the election slated for March 16. They said the new bloc will put a particular emphasis on "guaranteeing every Armenian citizen a worthy and prosperous life." They denied seeking a number of key government posts in the event of a Kocharian victory.

According to the Armenian Revolutionary Federation representative–the alliance’s top priority is "to work with people" rather than come to power. The Yerkrapah leader–Armenian parliament deputy speaker Albert Bazeyan–affirmed that "Justice and Unity" will cooperate with whoever is elected president. Yerkrapah played an important role in Kocharian’s successful policy dispute with Levon Ter-Petrosyan who resigned last month over his policy toward the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Bazeyan implicitly confirmed allegations by opposition candidates that local government and law-enforcement officials are using unlawful means to secure Kocharian’s victory. He said the alliance will strive to restrain those officials who act "on their own." He said such activities–if continued–will only harm Kocharian.

ARF Executive Council member Vahan Hovanessian pointed out that it was not only the candidacy of Robert Kocharian that the parties had rallied around–but also the need for resolving a number of vital problems–such as ensuring the security of Artsakh and Armenia and developing their statehood–involving the Armenian Diaspora in solving numerous problems–as well as resolving economic problems. According to Hovanessian–it is also necessary to resolve social justice issues and establish a moral standard in the country. He said that Acting President and Prime Minister Robert Kocharian appears to be the best candidature for president. However–all members of the Justice and Unity Union are ready to cooperate with any elected president–in order to promote national unity. Hovanessian stressed that the parties entering the union were not seeking power–their major concern was to create mechanisms of control over power structures.

Hovanessian said that cooperation between his party and the Ramkavar Party in support of Kocharian should not be taken as a surprise–since–despite numerous differences–the two parties still have a common purpose–the Armenian Cause. He mentioned that this similarity alone was enough to unite the two parties under current circumstances. Hovanessian remembered a similar situation during the war in Beirut–Lebanon when both the parties united to defend the Armenian population.

According to Hovanessian–the National Assembly is expected to adopt a new election law in the near future. In addition–substantial changes are foreseen in the judicial system.

Yerkrapah Deputy Chairman Albert Bazeyan stressed the need for restoring the people’s trust in government and high-ranking officials. He assured that he would promote the restoration of trust and respect for high officials. He also pointed to the need of reintroducing to the people the idea of national unity. According to him–tensions in Armenia will only play into the hands of its enemies. In the social sphere–according to Bazeyan–Yerkrapah is guided by the principle of social justice–"We don’t mind getting rich together with the state–but we are against anyone getting rich at the expense of the state."

The political secretary of the Socialist Union of Armenia–Ashot Manoucharian–confirming his commitment to the idea of national unity–discussed problems of foreign policy. He mentioned that Armenia is facing a serious test in an area where a single error may allow foreign special services to realize their well-thought out schemes–as it was in Georgia and Azerbaijan. Stiff competition between the super powers are existent in the reason.

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