Notes From Hairenik
September 22, 2006

Last night I read an interesting article appearing on ArmeniaLiberty.org suggesting that Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian may run for president, and will win the backing from President Robert Kocharian. I also heard a rumor about this, but I shrugged it off as being a what-if scenario, nothing to take seriously. But this report suggests otherwise. It read:

Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian has again pointedly declined to rule out his participation in Armenia’s next presidential election due in 2008.

“At the moment I am concentrating on my work,” he said in an interview published in the September edition of the French-Armenian magazine “Nouvelles d’Armenie.” “I know that I still have things to do in this country, and I would like to continue my work.”

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Oskanian made similar comments in July, responding to reports that he is harboring presidential ambitions and may therefore become actively involved in Armenian politics. The Armenian press has since been awash with rumors that he is now President Robert Kocharian’s preferred successor and might be backed by the Prosperous Armenia party of pro-Kocharian tycoon Gagik Tsarukian for that purpose.

Oskanian’s passionate speech at a recent conference of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) sparked speculation that he is courting the pro-Kocharian nationalist party to back his possible presidential bid. Lragir.am, an online news service, claimed that Dashnaktsutyun is not averse to doing that.

This is very interesting. If the ARF-Dashnaktsutyun agrees to back Oskanian, who is a fellow Armenian diasporan, the foreign minister will also drastically gain the support of the international Armenian community, as the ARF still has a considerable amount of influence in virtually all colonies around the globe. Never mind the fact that Oskanian is fairly respected in the diaspora anyway. Although the ARF has discussed the possibility of introducing its own candidate in the 2008 presidential elections, this notion is a bit far-fetched, since the political party has lost touch with the people, although it refuses to understand this. It’s slogan last year to apparently win public support was “We’re 115 years old.” I doubt very many people cared about that, and people I have spoken with are generally disappointed in the ARF, especially with its position in the pro-Kocharian coalition, including myself.

But the ARF is not unique in the fact that for the most party political parties whose members hold governmental positions do not look after or reach out to their constituents. They instead tend to their own ambitions and business interests—this is clearly a fact when you study the news from the last six years especially and realize that most if not all Armenian politicians have lucrative businesses on the side. The people’s interests should be met first—this is a golden rule in any democracy, but that is not yet the case in Armenia.

However, Oskanian running for president may not necessarily be good news given the fact that potential backing party Prosperous Armenia is comprised of a bunch of wealthy thugs or arguably well-to-do pseudo-intellectuals. It will mean that Oskanian once elected will be pressured to give preferential treatment and support to private interests as Kocharian has been doing already, rather than put the general public’s concerns first and foremost. In other words, things may remain status quo.

But then again, you never know with Armenian politics. Things change rather quickly—party views, party representation in government, side-switching, and so forth. I for one am still waiting for yet another fellow diasporan, Raffi Hovannisian, to start make a lot of noise and shake things up in this country instead of crying about being locked out of his party offices and thus the nation being essentially undemocratic. We know that, but what he’s going to try to do to foster real democracy—that is, what the international community generally perceives as being democracy—remains to be seen. Interesting times in Armenia. Lots of things up in the air. Let’s be patient to see what pans out.

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1 Comments:
Anonymous Onnik Krikorian said...
Be aware that a lot of the information coming out from officials and the main government party is designed to confuse voters. For example, many people are still not convinced by the reported conflict brewing between Prosperous Armenia and the Republican Party.

Anyway, next year's parliamentary elections will determine who follows Kocharian and unless a miracle happens, there's only one issue that matters to those at the top of power now.

That is, will however becomes the next President of Armenia be able to guarantee that those in power now will not face investigation and prosecution for corruption and other crimes conducted while in office.

I think on that count alone, Oskanian is unreliable for the powers that be. Of course, if people like Dodi Gago are able to control figures such as Oskanian, that's another matter.

But forget democracy. That's too much of a threat to their fiefdoms.

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