Armenian leader says opposition infighting to be blamed for tension

Armenian leader says opposition infighting to be blamed for tension

Hayastani Hanrapetutyun, Yerevan
21 Apr 04

Armenian President Robert Kocharyan has criticized the opposition for
obstructing his work by staging rallies and vowed to give “an
appropriate response to that”. In a wide-ranging interview with the
newspaper Hayastani Hanrapetutyun, he said that the opposition was not
fighting against him “but for the position as Armenia’s opposition
leader”. Kocharyan said that tension in the country could be
alleviated if opposition deputies resume their parliamentary
activities. He rejected allegations made by the opposition about the
pending sacking of the prime minister and said that his goal was “to
work fruitfully” with this team. The following is an excerpt from
report by Armenian newspaper Hayastani Hanrapetutyun on 21 April
entitled “We shall continue working with the same team till the next
elections”; subheadings have been inserted editorially:

An interview with Armenian President Robert Kocharyan.

[Hayastani Hanrapetutyun correspondent] Mr President, you continue to do
your work and the opposition seems to continue to stage rallies and
other mass events. What developments or outcome do you expect?

[Robert Kocharyan] I do not quite understand the word “outcome”. We
are working. The government is implementing what it planned. Of course
there are shortcomings and we are trying to eliminate them in the

The opposition has halted its work in the National Assembly and has
organized rallies. To be honest, I do not think anything can be
achieved through that. Had they staged peaceful rallies without
blocking the streets, I would have said: Let them stage them. We shall
continue to build this country. We want to continue to do that.

There are people who are not happy with the positive results, and are
trying to hamper this. There is nothing new here. There is no country
in the world where the opposition does not want the incumbent
authorities to resign. At the same time there is no country where the
authorities do not take measures to ensure stability. We are working
and we will continue to do so.

I am under the impression that we are concentrating far too much on
the numbers of people gathered under the opposition banners. Some say
3,000 to 4,000, others say hundred of thousand…[ellipsis as
published]. I think we should not concentrate so much on these
figures, although there were not so many people. But we are no
worried about the figures. Just because there were so many people,
does not mean that they should be allowed to flout the law. Twenty
three thousand people is only one per cent of our citizens who have
the right to vote. However there were not that many. Even if there
were, one per cent of the population has no right to impose its ways
on the whole society.

[Passage omitted: Kocharyan compares the number of people at a rally
to support him before the second round of the presidential elections
with the number of people at recent opposition rallies]

One should carefully study the problem. Why are they doing that? The
goals are obvious and they have nothing in common with legality and
constitutional order. And there will be an appropriate response to

Denies plans to sack premier

[Correspondent] Mr President, today the prime minister gave interviews
to two newspapers. He said that in case of his possible resignation
the Republican Party of Armenia [RPA] will join the opposition. What
is your attitude to this statement?

[Kocharyan] I have not read his interviews, but I am sure that in view
of the situation similar things might be said. This can probably be
explained by rumours that the president is planning to dissolve the
National Assembly and dismiss the prime minister. It is clear why this
kind of rumours are being disseminated. This is done to create the
atmosphere of distrust in the coalition and to undermine relations
between the president and prime minister.

[Passage omitted: Kocharyan hails government for budget implementation
and economic growth and says that the prime minister and himself
should treat such statements with humour and advises journalists to do
the same, by doing that the opposition encourages the coalition to

I would like to reiterate the point I made earlier that the opposition
was fighting not against me but for the position as Armenia’s
opposition leader. I am under the impression that the leader has
already been found and this will lead to calmness. This is quite a
profitable position for which it might be worthwhile to fight.


[Correspondent] Mr President, there are conflicting reports about the
construction of a gas pipeline between Iran and Armenia. Will it only
be used to meet the needs of Armenia or will it be a transit one? What
is the state of the Karabakh issue settlement today?

[Kocharyan] We signed a preliminary contract with the Iranian party
under which the gas pipeline will be constructed only for the needs of
our country. We are not discussing any other options.

The other option is in some ways more problematic. Today the
construction of the gas pipeline is the most significant problem in
terms of Armenian’s energy security.

We are also constructing a second electric power transmission line. It
will be finished in two to three months. It will enable us to transmit
more electricity and to use the gas pipeline more fruitfully. This
will be an interesting business.


There is nothing new as regards the NKR issue. The foreign ministers
held a familiarization meeting in Prague. Yesterday I met the Minsk
Group newly-appointed co-chairman from the USA. My impression is very
positive. He is aware of regional developments and knows the situation
quite well, but we have nothing new from the point of view of the NKR
conflict settlement.

[Passage omitted: Kocharyan says he is sorry that famous Armenian poet
Kaputikyan’ turned down award]

Appeals to opposition deputies to resume work

[Correspondent] According to sociologists, the internal political
situation is very tense. What can you do to alleviate tension?

[Kocharyan] There is only one way: to return to the National Assembly
and to fulfil their obligations. I don’t understand why they put
forward conditions for the implementation of their own obligations. If
you do not want to implement them, don’t but why put forward
conditions? Under the constitution I am responsible for the security
of the country, regional integrity and many other things.

[Passage omitted: Kocharyan compares opposition leaders to children
and says tension may create problems for investments, recalls the
events of 1989]

National Assembly

[Correspondent] Mr President, not only the opposition but also the
coalition is boycotting the National Assembly’s sittings. Do you think
that in view of that the National Assembly may be dissolved?

[Kocharyan] The coalition is not boycotting. The National Assembly
will have a three-day session next week which will be fruitful. One
sitting had failed to take place because of the rally and
threats. Though I think they should have still held their sessions. I
rule out the dissolution of the National Assembly. There is no need
for that. Such rumours are being spread to create havoc in the
country. They have been doing that for five years already. According
to them, I have been dissolving the assembly since May
2000…[ellipsis as published]. [Passage omitted: reiterates the

Our goal is to work fruitfully with this political team. We shall work
together till the next parliamentary election at least.