YEREVAN (Yerkir/RFE/RL)–Defense Minister Serge Sarkisian confirmed media reports on Wednesday he is likely to become President Robert Kocharian’s election campaign manager.
"The likelihood of that is very high. But there has been no final decision yet," he said at a roundtable discussion on Armenia’s foreign and security policy issues.
Answering why he should be the person to head Kocharian’s campaign–Sargsian explained–"Why should someone consider it strange when people who have worked together for a long time are going to collaborate?"
The two men come from Nagorno-Karabakh and led the Armenian-populated region during the 1992-94 war with Azerbaijan. They maintained their close personal rapport after being appointed to senior government posts in Yerevan–with Sarkisian acting as Kocharian’s most trusted ally since the latter’s election as president in 1998.
Sargsian said the allegations of the army’s crucial involvement in the 1995 and 1996 elections are highly inflated. "Some people have simply their reputations to support this or that candidate," he said and added that he not in the position to forbid any serviceman to speak about politics or vote.
"If I actively participate in the pre-election processes–that will be an additional guarantee that illegal methods will not used during the elections," he explained.