YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Acting President and Prime Minister Robert Kocharian launched his election campaign on March 7 with a first meeting with the voters of the Yerevan’s "Center" community and staff of "Mushegh Ishkhan" educational complex.
Kocharian stressed that his election platform is realistic and includes only clauses which will be fulfilled. He said any unrealistic platform will not only fail but force the elected president to change his prime minister once a year–blaming him for poor work–or search for an enemy within–ban political parties–accuse outside forces of impeding implementation of his platform–and avoid media representatives.
Noting that he was determined to turn Armenia into a leading country of the region–Kocharian emphasized the importance of industrial development. He said that loans allocated for development of small and medium-sized businesses–$12,000 from the World Bank and $100,000,000 from Kerk Kerkorian–will also help to solve this problem. Kocharian addressed reforms in tax policy. He voiced his content with the fact that tax assignmen’s to the budget have considerably increased. Kocharian pledged to fight against shadow economy. "Shadow economy destroys the country’s economy and impedes competition," he said.
Regarding social issues–Kocharian said that a transition from the principle of social equality to the principle of social justice is planned. Kocharian also stressed the importance of reforms in the social security system–highlighting a new insurance plan.
Kocharian described as failure the 1997 health care reforms. He promised that under the 1998 budget health care will receive an additional 7-7.5 billion drams. This will allow for the increase of health care and education employee wages.
Kocharian stressed that substantial amendmen’s should be made in the current Armenian Constitution. He said it was necessary to find a correct balance among the different branches of power. According to the presidential candidate–the Constitution does not regulate the relationship between the president and the National Assembly–government and prime minister.
Kocharian said that the power must not be concentrated in the hands of a certain person. He also disagreed with the viewpoint that one ruling party must be responsible for the entire country. He said that a package of legislative documen’s related to amendmen’s in the Constitution will be prepared by April-May. Indicating that 70 articles of the Constitution need to be amended–Kocharian said that a constitutional commission will be set up to discuss these amendmen’s and put them on a national referendum.
The presidential candidate did not expand on his stance on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict–saying that it was well known.