Oskanian Move Fallout: Ruling party says no concerns about Kocharyan’s possible political comeback

Oskanian Move Fallout: Ruling party says no concerns about Kocharyan’s possible political comeback

The decision by Vartan Oskanian, a government critic who served as Armenia’s foreign minister throughout the 1998-2008 presidency of Robert Kocharyan, to set up a new political party has elicited mixed reactions among the country’s public and political circles.

There is a broad perception in society that Kocharyan may be behind the move. Hence, there is a difference of attitudes towards Oskanian’s decision.

Oskanian’s will be the latest among a number of new political parties established in Armenia after the government-initiated constitutional reform was approved in last year’s disputed referendum. These parties will apparently seek presence in the country’s next legislature that under the new parliamentary form of government will form the next government of Armenia.

Among these newly established or “re-branded” parties are the newly created Bright Armenia Party of non-aligned MP Edmon Marukyan and the Armenian Renaissance party of Artur Baghdasaryan that was formed on the basis of Orinats Yerkir to which scores of other parties and nongovernmental organizations have acceded.

The ruling Republican Party does not seem to be much concerned over the prospect of Kocharyan’s political comeback through Oskanian’s party. This is what at least Deputy Parliament Speaker Eduard Sharmazanov says.

“We are concerned about much more serious things, such as the socio-economic situation, the recognition of the Genocide, Armenian-Russian, Armenian-American relations,” he told reporters.

“I only know that Oskanian has an opposition stance and criticizes the government. But for me, as for an ordinary voter, it is not clear with what kind of political agenda he is coming and how his opposition posturing will be different from others oppositionists’.”

Head of the Free Democrats party, MP Khachatur Kokobelyan, for example, does not link Oskanian’s move with Kocharyan’s return to the political arena, because he thinks Kocharyan has never left Armenia’s political arena.

“It will not be a surprise to me if someday Kocharyan publicly announces that, although during his presidency he rarely made public announcements,” Kokobelyan said, as quoted by Lragir.am.

Expert in political and electoral technologies Armen Badalyan thinks that Armenia’s second president, regardless of whether he will have a connection to Oskanian’s party or not, cannot raise its reputation. “The thing is not about having a seat in parliament, a five-member faction, but about being an influential force.”

According to the analyst, Oskanian’s calls for former members of the Prosperous Armenia Party to consolidate around him are more like PR steps. He thinks that in case of mutual interest, Oskanian may even cooperate with ex-president Levon Ter-Petrosyan’s Armenian National Congress (ANC) and the factor of the 2008 post-election events for which the ANC blames Kocharyan, won’t be an obstacle.

National Accord party chairman Aram Harutyunyan, meanwhile, sees a potential in Oskanian’s future party as a “fresh force”.

“He has a potential to consolidate forces and have his own place in the political arena,” Harutyunyan says.

Head of another extra-parliamentary, Democratic Party of Armenia, Aram Sargsyan also sees Oskanian’s step as positive: “I will be very happy if he has a new idea or ideology and it becomes a reality.”