YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–At its September 26 meeting the Armenian National Assembly was to continue the discussion of the bill "On lombards and lombard activities" which was approved in its first reading.
But immediately after the registration–Speaker of the Parliament Armen Khachatrian made a statement on his resignation. He explained that step by a new alignment of political forces in the Parliament.
"Trying to cooperate–different factions are drawing a new political map," he said–pointing out that he is "not a representative of this majority," but a man "who [has] always preferred a statesman’s way of thinking" and considered the interests of the state to be more important than his own. "I think that if you accept my resignation–the new speaker will cooperate with you and the Parliament-government connection will be more efficient. I am asking for you support. I am resigning," Khachatrian said.
With and eighty to five vote and three abstentions the Parliament decided to discuss the issue of the speaker’s resignation out of order. Considering the importance of the issue–the Parliament also made a decision on the TV recording and broadcasting of the discussion.
The greater part of almost 20 Parliament members who took the floor represented the Republican Party of Armenia and the People’s Party of Armenia. All of them objected to the speaker’s resignation. The reason for the Republican Party representatives’ objection was Armen Khachatrian’s being their party-mate.
As for the Communists–they demanded that the issue be discussed in the president’s presence.
Moreover–the Communists believe that the resignation may have a negative impact on Armenian-Russian relations and on the intergovernmental agreemen’s that were signed by the Armenian president in Moscow.
The Communists think that the resignation of the Parliament speaker is dictated by certain forces–which is an attempt at a coup d’etat.
The PPA members stated that the party was not informed of Khachatrian’s intention to resign–and they were indignant at the fact that until late in the evening of the previous day their party-mate was determined to hold his grounds before his opponents. Gurgen Yeghiazarian supposed that before Armen Khachatrian sent in his resignation he was threatened and "offered a little bribe–for example–the post of Armenia’s ambassador to Strasbourg." The PPA member Manuk Gasparian–who is not a member of any party or deputy group–drew a conclusion that the resignation is the result of the struggle within the "Unity" faction.
Gagik Minassian–who represents the Republican wing of the "Unity" faction–qualified the speaker’s decision as "the most reasonable from the political and moral viewpoint." He hailed this decision–regarding it as the right outcome–much more so that after long discussions the disagreemen’s between the two wings were never settled.
On behalf of their factions Seyran Avagian (NDU) and Artur Baghdasarian (Country of Law) expressed willingness to contribute to the settlement of the issue and find the solution as soon as possible.
Artur Baghdasarian pointed out that the problem is not in the person–it is a political problem. Speaking on behalf of the "Armenian Revolutionary Federation" faction–Aghvan Vardanian said that the faction is ready for cooperation–but the change of Parliament leadership is not an end in itself.
The "Stability" deputy group also expressed its willingness for cooperation. The group does not agree with the definition "political coup d’etat."
After the vote Khachatrian stated that his resignation was not accepted. "So I’ll continue working as speaker–and if a Parliament member does not wish to get registered–it is his own business," Khachatrian said.
As to his attitude to the collection of signatures in favor of his resignation–Khachatrian said that "the collection of signatures was illegal–as the speaker is elected for the entire term of office. If the Regulations of the National Assembly run counter to the Constitution–the latter has greater authority." He also pointed out that if the signatures had officially been submitted to him–he "would not have put this unconstitutional issue to vote."