ARF Bureau representative Hrant Margarian gave an interview to the Public Televsion Station of Armenia the morning after the presidential elections there. He spoke of the presidential election run-off and strategy–the general post election environment–and ARF’s input in the elections process.
Question: It’s apparent that there will be a run-off in the presidential election. How was the election conducted?
Hrant Margarian: This election was unprecedented; it was well-organized–serious–calm and really free and fair. This election was quite different from previous ones held in Armenia; voter turnout and activity was unprecedented. I would like to thank those more than 700 thousand citizens who–listening to us–voted for Robert Kocharian.
This election was also exceptional in establishing a new type of democracy–and I am happy to be living in today’s Armenia–to have supported a candidate who has received more than 49% of the vote-who will–nevertheless be entering a run-off election because wants to gain the decisive and convincing vote of his citizens.
I believe that some forces are to blame for those sporadic irregularities during the election; the other team has skillful specialists in this area. The irregularities that occurred during these elections–however–are nothing compared to those during the previous elections.
There were irregularities–but they cannot cast doubt on the results of the vote.
I would like to say again that a new precedence has been established in Armenia–and the people view their participation as critical.
Q: Robert Kocharian received 49.8 percent of the vote. Why was he short of a few thousand votes?
HM: I am even glad and proud of this fact because–for the sake of justice and truth–we are going to have a run-off.
I am sure that we–as well as Robert Kocharian–need the credible vote of the people; its critical in relations with the international community–in pursuing his position in the Nagorno Karabagh conflict. In his next five years he needs broad confidence in order to carry out new policy when appointing public officials–as well as in fighting corruption–and establishing law and order in the country; this is critical.
A win with a slight margin might have raised speculations and would have questioned the reputation of this country. I appreciate the Central Election Commission (CEC) decision. True–Robert Kocharian won with a majority vote–but he must gain a legitimate decision within the requiremen’s of the law.
Nonetheless–it not the figures that really matter but the facts. Yes–we have to take this stance and others should follow suit. Both respect for people–and the country’s stability should convince us to congratulate the winner genially so that legitimacy is not questioned–so that the international community regards us accordingly.
Q: There were eight other candidates who were contesting your candidate. That round is over. However–as you mentioned during our last meeting–you are not going to result to mudslinging. What will your tactics be and what is your attitude toward your challenger and his team?
HM: The Armenian Revolutionary Federation has always stayed out of nasty situations. During this race we behaved politely and with dignity. It was not a sign of weakness–but was driven by our principle to establish proper relations between political parties. I wouldn’t say that the other side took this same positions.
There even were threats. Who are they trying to threaten? If there was large-scale stealing–it was they who stole–if there were irregularities–it was they who undertook them. They must reconsider their position. We are ready to congratulate whoever receives the vote of the people; we have no problem here. But no one should threaten or intimidate. We have always struggled for the truth and never for power; we have never compromised our principles and are not going to.
There is an element that has played a great role in large-scale fraud; they are professionals in this arena. Now–they are trying to formalize their theft–with all disregard for the well-being of the nation. They are attempting to hamper this nation’s peace that we acquired long ago. The country has entered a stage of stability and those forces are trying to reverse it-fearing a loss of what they have stolen.
I urge all responsible political forces to get rid of this poisonous and provocative element and let’s continue our way with a peaceful struggle. Robert Kocharian has led this country–guided by his ideals–while in the case of the other candidate it will be others-and not the candidate they are supporting-who will be leading. We have a candidate who knows what should be done–who has experience in leading the country toward new achievemen’s. And he did not try to use his authority to falsify the vote results.
I am confident that the number of Kocharian supporters will grow and they will rally around the President; we are going to win. This victory will ruin the others. I expect that in the second round we will win thanks to our unity. Q: What will be your tactics? HM: We will continue to work. We focused more on our platform during the first round. We will now work more actively with other parties in order to give new momentum to the campaign. I am confident that the people see their future with Robert Kocharian.