National Assembly Convenes First Session; Karen Demirchian Elected Parliement Speaker

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–The newly-elected National Assembly convened its first session Thursday morning with congratulatory remarks from President Robert Kocharian and blessing prayers from His Holiness Karekin I–Catholicos of All Armenia’s–presented by Locum Tenens Vicar General Archbishop Garegin Nercessian.

The first item of the agenda was the election of a Speaker. With a vote of 110 to 12–former Communist Party boss and chairman of the People’s Party of Armenia Karen Demirchian was elected speaker. The national assembly voided six ballots.

Of the 129 elected deputies–128 attended. Missing from the meeting was notorious former interior minister and chairman of the Armenian National Movement Vano Siradeghian.

Albert Bazeyan of the Republican Party of Armenia and People’s Party deputy Rubik Miroyan were also chosen by the National Assembly as deputy speakers. 126 of 129 deputies participated in the ballot; two ballot papers were nullified. Bazeyan received 121 votes for and three votes against; Miroyan – was elected with a vote of 74 to 50. Both candidates were named by the Unity bloc. Hrant Khachatrian nominated by the Right and Unity bloc received 33 votes for and 91 votes against.

In his message–Kocharian stressed that without democratic principles–continuous change and enhancement of the country would not be possible. He stressed that the National Assembly was the icon of the very democratic principles–the adherence to which needs of improve.

The president said the National Assembly had a significant role to play in regaining public trust and the elevation of Armenian standards within the international community.

He stressed that inter-parliamentary relations made up a great portion of Armenia’s relations with other countries and governmen’s–adding that members of parliament were responsible in building and improving international opinion toward Armenia.

"We are entering a new stage in the strengthening of the Armenian state," declared Kocharian–stressing that radical changes were needed to achieve reforms in judicial–economic–construction and other realms of government.

"We must work together and realize these goals to their logical fruition," said Kocharian–adding that Armenia can become the bastion of democratic stability in the region–in the eyes of the international community.

"Public collaboration–political dialogue and cooperation between the branches must become our slogans for the upcoming four years," commented Kocharian–who said a strong tie between the executive and legislative branches was the most important ways by which Armenia could overcome obstacles it is facing.

In the afternoon session–the National Assembly went over to the candidates for the heads of the six standing commissions.

Armen Khachatrian (Unity) is the only candidate for the post of head of the foreign relations commission.

3 candidates are seeking the vacancy of the head of the commission for science–education–culture and youth affairs – Shavarsh Kocharian (NDU)–Hamlet Haroutiunian (Right and Unity) and Sergo Yeritsian (Orinats Yerkir).

Vahan Hovnessian (ARF) is the only candidate for the post of the head of the commission for defense–national security and internal affairs.

Gagik Tadevosian (CPA) is running for the post of the head of the commission for social–public health and environmental affairs.

Candidates for the post of the head of the commission for state and legal issues were nominated by the Unity bloc (Yuri Bakhshian) and Orinats Yerkir (Artur Baghdasarian).

Vardan Khachatrian (Unity) is the only candidate for the post of the head of the commission for finance-credit–budgetary and economic issues.

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