Armenian ex. pres. Kocharian announces bid to participate in snap elections
Ex-President of Armenia Robert Kocharian has announced that he intends to participate in early elections if they are called.
“I will participate with my team and we will win,” he said in an interview with three Armenian media outlets.
Kocharian said that holding early elections at the moment, given the conditions that have developed in the country after the war, is dangerous, and that it would be better for Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan to voluntarily resign, and his team would be replaced by a transitional government – for a maximum of a year.
The ex-president also touched upon the issue of unblocking transport communications in the region and the issue of returning Armenian prisoners who are still in Azerbaijan since the end of the second Karabakh war.
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Why Kocharian and the opposition are against early elections
After the leaders of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia signed a trilateral ceasefire statement in Karabakh in November 2020, protests began in Yerevan demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. The opposition believes that he agreed to a ‘criminal agreement and voluntarily surrendered territories in Karabakh.’
At the end of December, Pashinyan suggested that the country’s political forces begin consultations on holding early parliamentary elections in 2021. But the Armenian opposition has rejected this proposal and is demanding that the prime minister leave office before the elections.
Ex-President Robert Kocharian agrees with this approach. He is convinced that it is dangerous to organize early parliamentary elections now, “in an atmosphere of contradictions, uncertainty, lack of answers to sensitive questions.”
“We have all the necessary tools for the political struggle, we also have a team. If the authorities manage to impose elections earlier, and they obviously have the necessary votes in parliament for this, then in this case, I think it would be more correct to participate in them. Otherwise, we will give these people the opportunity to assert their power.”
Kocharian believes that about 200-300,000 people in Armenian society are ‘radically predisposed’, but another revolution, just two years after the events of 2018, may become a problem for the country. And yet, if the hope for a political path to a change of power “dies”, then, according to Kocharian, in spring people will again take to the streets, and this wave of protests will be more powerful than the previous one.
On the return of Armenian prisoners from Azerbaijan
Robert Kocharian does not believe that Azerbaijan does not know the exact number of Armenian prisoners. The ex-president is convinced that the Azerbaijani authorities “are pursuing the goal of creating problems for equipping the Karabakh army.”
“Keeping prisoners is a very serious headache. Aliyev is now under constant pressure because of the prisoners, but he has specific goals – to undermine the security system of Karabakh. Even if he returns them, the Azerbaijani Armed Forces will capture new prisoners. This practice will end only when the [Armenian] authorities promise not to send soldiers to Karabakh anymore.”