Ex-president explains decision not to join the fray, continues criticism of successor’s policies

Ex-president explains decision not to join the fray, continues criticism of successor’s policies

Photo: www.2nd.am

Armenia’s former president Robert Kocharyan says he has decided to stay aloof from active politics in the current election season mainly not to get bogged down in “petty bargaining” that he said would have been a waste of his “time, knowledge and experience”.

In an interview with Mediamax news agency published on Tuesday, Kocharyan insisted that he himself did not plan on contesting the presidential post, but he acknowledged that there were certain expectations from him in this regard.

Kocharyan also said that struggle between “two Karabakhis and recent companions” – meaning himself and current president Serzh Sargsyan, both of whom are of Karabakh extraction – would have been unacceptable to him. “This would have put many in the situation of a tough choice and would have become a subject of various speculations. Besides, once I myself suggested that the current president be my successor and his desire to be reelected for a second term is understandable,” said the former head of state, whose transfer of power to Sargsyan through an electoral process in 2008 resulted in deadly street violence and plunged the country into a political crisis for several years.

Kocharyan added that he similarly did not want to get involved in the format of “three presidents struggling for power” (implying also his predecessor Levon Ter-Petrosyan, the current leader of a major opposition bloc) as he described such a format as “very unpleasant and detrimental to the country.”

At the same time, the former leader continued to criticize his successor’s policies, in particular, the handling by his government of the social and economic problems facing the country.

“Unfortunately, fundamental factors still do not give grounds for optimism. Outward migration continues unabated, and it no longer resembles mere labor migration. With the low birthrate and aging population, this trend is very dangerous,” said Kocharyan.

While acknowledging that Armenia has been picking up in terms of economic growth in the years after the 2009 recession imposed by the global economic storm, the ex-president still cast doubts over the prospect of a sustainable growth in conditions of falling investments and an increasingly heavier debt burden.

As one of the possible positive developments for the country’s economy Kocharyan pointed to the prospect of the restoration of a railroad link with Russia via Abkhazia, which has become feasible in view of political changes in Georgia last year.

Speaking about the political situation in Armenia, Kocharyan decried the presence of what he described as “puppet” political competition formed during the current elections.

Several major political forces, including the Prosperous Party of Armenia of tycoon Gagik Tsarukyan, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation and Ter-Petrosyan’s Armenian National Congress bowed out of the presidential race apparently seeing little chance of mounting any significant challenge to the current government in the current political environment.

In his latest interview Kocharyan stressed that such a situation cannot possibly promote efficient work of the government, while it only causes apathy in society.

“It is well known that while the government may be sleeping well without competition, people, as a rule, live poorly,” said Kocharyan. “It is quite difficult to reverse this trend through the efforts of the government. Something greater is needed, something that would mobilize the society, instill faith in it and induce it to take action. I hope the government will be able to cope with these challenges.”