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Ömer Engin LÜTEM, Retired Ambassador
18 February 2008 - ERAREN
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!àҐ ="justify">Tomorrow, the presidential elections will be held in Armenia.

The President of Armenia has greater power and responsibilities when compared with Turkey and with many other countries. He is the most important political figure of the country in the process of setting the state policies.

According to the Armenian Constitution, the President Robert Kocharian who governs the country since 1998 could not be elected for the third time. Kocharian, who is relatively young and at the top of his political power, did not give any hint about what he will going to do after the end of his term. There are some rumors that like Putin he would like to be the prime minister or will lead off a company which will gather all the Russian investments in Armenia.

The most powerful candidate of the presidential election is the Prime Minister Serj Sarkisian. He is from Karabagh like Kocharian and he was distinguished during the Karabagh Wars. Since the Armenian independence, Sarkisian worked on the issues related with the domestic or international security. He is considered to be the real boss of the security forces and the second influential man after Kocharian. It was known that Sarkisian wanted to become the president after Kocharian. After the sudden death of the Prime Minister Markanyan he was nominated prime minister last year and became very close to the presidency.

The most important adversary of Sarkisian is the first president of Armenia, Ter Petrosyan. Petrosyan worked for the independence of Armenia since 1988, he was the President between 1992 and 1998. He lead the fight against Azerbaijan, realized the cessation of Karabagh from Azerbaijan and the occupation of the seven Azeri provinces which surround that region. As a consequence of this occupation one million Azeri became refugees and they live today in different cities of Azerbaijan under bad conditions.

After the end of the hostilities Ter Petrosyan wanted to make peace. The talks begun with the assistance of the Minsk Group and was relatively successful at the beginning. However, the Karabagh Armenians leaded by Kochariyan argued that, apart from Karabagh the seven other provinces should also belong to the Armenia. In order to suppress the opposition, Ter Petrosyan nominated Kocharian as the prime minister and Sarkisian as the minister of defense. However, Kocharian and Sarkisian by collaborating with some political parties in Armenia, forced Ter Petrosyan to resigne in 1998. Kocharian became the president and Ter Petrosyan retired from active political life due to his loss of prestige.

As president Kocharian followed a hard-line policy for the Karabagh issue during relatively a long period. Later, under the pressure of the USA and Russia he started to the negotiation talks with Haydar Aliev and then with ?lham Aliev which lasted years. According to the media reports, lately Kocharian and Aliev agreed at many points except the status of Karabagh. What is ironic here is that the draft agreement which is negotiated is almost the same with the one which resulted with the resignation of Ter Petrosyan.

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ERAREN - Institute for Armenian Research

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