Kocharian Rejects Possibility of Coup

YEREVAN (RFE/RL–Noyan Tapan)–"The fall of 1998 will be the most stable autumn ever," said President Robert Kocharian Sunday during a meeting with reporters at a beach in Lake Sevan–which he visited over the weekend.

The president dismissed with derision commen’s made late last week by the chairman of the formerly ruling Armenian National Movement who predicted a grave political crisis this fall–possibly resulting in Kocharian’s resignation. ANM leader Vano Siradeghian had told fellow party members that the present authorities are leading Armenia to international isolation and war in Nagorno-Karabakh.

A reporter asked whether Kocharian was worried that he would be removed as president as he removed former leader Levon Ter-Petrosyan–and in response Kocharian said–"The former president removed himself from power."

Kocharian said the probability of the resumption of war is "almost nil," while adding that the country should always be prepared for it.

He stated that he did not believe that following the October presidential elections in Azerbaijan–there would be a resumption of military activities instigated by Azerbaijan–adding that the latter preferred to continue dragging its feet in the negotiation process.

Kocharian also added that the accelerating economic growth and low likelihood of renewed fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh will substantially improve living standards in Armenia "within two or three years." He said the first positive results of his policies will be visible already in 1998–which he predicted will be "the most stable year" since independence.

Citing official statistics for the first half of the year–he said Armenia’s exports have risen 30 percent–with the currency–the dram–maintaining its value with no monetary intervention by the state.

According to the president–45 percent of the projected annual budget revenues have already been collected–unlike in the past when no more than a third was being secured over the same period. In his words–beginning in 1998 the Armenian economy will grow at a steady annual rate of "eight to ten percent."

"By next December–it will be clear if the forecasts made by our Nostradamus proved to be correct," Kocharian said on Sunday. He further complained of a "constant nationwide anticipation of deterioration," stressing his own optimistic mood.

In response to a question regarding the decrease of funds being granted by the IMF and World Bank–Kocharian stated that "we prefer not living at someone else’s expense."

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