Kocharian Pledges to Secure International Recognition of Karabakh

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Acting President–Prime Minister and presidential candidate Robert Kocharian believes that Armenia’should play an essential role in the regional and world economy and politics–remaining committed to its national goals and human values.

Kocharian’s election platform brings closer cooperation between Armenia and CIS countries and attaches greater importance to further development of its traditional ties with Russia. Armenia’s priority relations are those with its close neighbors–especially with Iran and Georgia–while relations with major political and economic powers are of strategic importance. In that regard–Kocharian attaches special importance to deeper ties with the United States and the Council of Europe. He considers it necessary to extend Armenia’s participation in the United Nations–the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe–and other international organizations.

Proceeding from the principle of peaceful settlement of the Karabakh conflict–Kocharian plans to achieve the international recognition of Karabakh’s right to self-determination.

In Kocharian’s platform–the Karabakh settlement is considered a national problem and the Armenian nation is urged to rally around that issue. The platform required Diasporan participation in issues of the Armenian state and the realization of national aspirations. The double citizenship issue is also scheduled to be resolved.

On his way back from Moscow to Yerevan–Kocharian held a question and answer session with journalists accompanying him on the airplane. The questions mainly dealt with Kocharian’s possible reaction to different outcomes of the election.

Kocharian found it necessary to introduce amendmen’s into the Constitution restricting the powers of the president thereby creating a balance between the branches of power–strengthening the role of the judicial authorities and resolving the issue of double citizenship. He said that–if elected–he would assign a commission to work out draft amendmen’s to the Constitution to be approved through a referendum. He said the work started a month and a half ago and the results will be made public in April.

In response to accusations that state least 25,000 people to not have been in favor of Robert Kocharian," he said.

Kocharian felt that the current presidential race is both a competition of pre-election platforms and a struggle between individuals and political forces. Asked whether he considered himself a nationalist or a democrat–Kocharian said–"In my mind–nationalism–is an ideology–while democracy is a mode of life. I don’t think that one contradicts the other. One can be a democrat and still be guided by national interests."

Asked whether he would attend the CIS summit scheduled for March 19–Kocharian said that it depends on the results of the March 16 election. "Preliminary returns will be available in three days and if a run-off election is due–then I would rather not attend the summit. Probably–in that case Armenia will be represented by the National Assembly speaker," he suggested.

The candidate said he had yet to decide who he would propose for his current post of Prime Minister if he wins the election. "I have a good idea of what kind of a person the new prime minister should be," Kocharian said–adding that several candidates are currently under consideration.

If he is not elected president–Kocharian stated that he will not continue to hold his office even if he is offered to do so. "A new president–whoever he is–will be fettered if I continue in office," he explained. If such were the case–Kocharian explained that he would probably return to Karabakh.

Asked to comment on the Armenian Revolutionary Federation–Kocharian stated–"I’m a non-partisan. The activities of the ARF were banned–and I’ve removed that ban because I feel that all parties must be allowed to operate and there shouldn’t be persecutions and trials on political grounds in the country. The ARF is now supporting me–however that support was not demanded on my behalf. I did not discuss the future with any of the political forces which have endorsed me. We held private talks mostly about general principles. I will try to do everything possible to provide all political forces with the opportunity to operate–but I will not discuss appointmen’s. I think that it was wise of the ARF not to even try to bring up that issue. It helped us establish true relations."

Asked whether he would punish those state officials who broke the law by committing embezzlement–Kocharian said–"People who committed crimes must and will be punished. But there mustn’t be an atmosphere in society where everybody is seeking the enemy in his neighbor or friend. There are government agencies which are supposed to do that without making noise and they are currently doing their job. I am just trying to present these issues in a milder way."

Asked whether it is possible that the results of privatization be revised–Kocharian said–"Only through the courts."

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