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ArmInfo’s Interview with Eduard Sharmazanov, Vice Speaker of Armenian National Assembly, Spokesperson of Republican Party of Armenia
by Tatevik Shahunyan
Mr. Sharmazanov, how would you sum up the past presidential election? What conclusion has the Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) made after analyzing the election results?
The results of the past election deny the opinion that the election was not competitive, the President does not enjoy the vote of confidence and that the Armenian public has lost the interest in the electoral processes. The voting results have demonstrated quite the opposite – Armenian President enjoys the confidence of the majority of voters (58.64%). By the way, the RPA forecasted almost the same results. The second conclusion is that the election passed in a competitive atmosphere, and the unprecedented high result of Heritage Leader Raffi Hovannisian (36.75%) is the direct evidence of that. And the high voter turnout (61%) demonstrates the political activity of our public. All this is once again confirmed by the international observers’ positive assessment of the presidential election in Armenia.
Mr. Vice Speaker, how would you explain the high result demonstrated by Heritage Party Leader Raffi Hovannisian at the presidential election given that a few months before the presidential election his party had obtained only 5% of votes and that during the electoral campaign Hovannisian practically made use of no paid air time on TV and conducted rather passive campaign in the capital of Armenia?
This has happened due to the fact that Raffi Hovannisian was undoubtedly the much-fancied opposition candidate for president, and the whole protesting electorate consolidated around him.
How would you forecast the post-electoral processes?
I think the opposition will not step twice into the same river, I mean the post-electoral developments in 2008. If the opposition speaks of democracy and democratic elections, it should realize that democracy implies bilateral ensuring of the game rules and does not at all imply usurpation of power. If the defeated candidate refuses to acknowledge his defeat and congratulate his opponent on his victory, then he lacks political culture. In general, the Armenian opposition’s opinion that the defeated candidate striving for no radical steps is a betrayer is simply absurd and dead-ended. If Raffi Hovannisian and his team have unfulfilled ambitions, the election of the Yerevan Elders’ Council will be held in May, and they can try their fate again. And if Hovannisian has presidential ambitions, he has no other choice than waiting for the presidential election 2018. Any other actions of Hovannisian, aimed at gaining the presidential seat, will run counter to the Constitution and receive the relevant response from the authorized structures. Nobody has the right to exert pressure on the majority’s will. But given the political culture of Hovannisian, I have no doubt that his fight will be exclusively constitutional and will only imply a series of protest actions.
Do you think the opposition forces may consolidate around Raffi Hovannisian? If yes, how will it affect the domestic political situation in the country?
It should be noted that the opposition political forces’ electorate had already consolidated around Hovannisian at the presidential election, which was proved by the high number of votes he obtained. So, one should not cherish any illusions in this context, i.e. the situation will not change if one of the opposition leaders says that he supports the Heritage leader.
May provision of some key posts to the opposition, particularly, Heritage, ARF Dashnaktsutyun, Prosperous Armenia Party (PAP) be a compromise, especially as according to some media reports, there is already such arrangement with the PAP?
It will depend on the further political processes. Everything is possible theoretically. The Republican Party has always been guided by expediency, not by partisan interests. It is not an end in itself to fill the Cabinet with RPA members only. If the need to create a new coalition or a new format of power-opposition cooperation emerges, the RPA will be ready to do that, though it should be noted that the party has not discussed such an issue.
Mr. Sharmazanov, the issue of formation of the future Government of Armenia is being actively spoken about. Has the RPA discussed it? Will the new Government include new persons? If yes, what criteria will you be guided by?
The party has not yet discussed the issue of the new Government. But the fact that it will include new persons is doubtless, as the changes are the driving force of progress. But these changes will not be artificial. The staff will be selected according to the principle of efficiency. In addition, the upcoming personnel reshuffle will avoid merger of big business and politics.
Before the presidential election many wondered whether Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan will retain his post in the new Government. Some versions said this post would be given to the Prosperous Armenia Party as a compromise for non-participation in the presidential election. They also said that Tigran Sargsyan would lose his post, as Moscow dislikes him as a pro-European statesman…
Let me reply to the last part of your question about Moscow’s “discontent” with Tigran Sargsyan and the latter’s “possible” resignation. I should stresses that the personnel policy issues in Armenia are tackled by the ruling RPA and its leader – President Sezrh Sargsyan. The geopolitical factors play absolutely no role here. In addition, I do not share the opinion that Russia is discontent with the Armenian Government’s position. During Tigran Sargsyan’s term in the premier’s office, the Armenian-Russian economic cooperation was activated even more. As regards the core of the question, I should point out that such issues are tackled at the professional level, not personal one. It is not important who occupies that post, it is important how well he copes with the tasks. Over the past five years, despite some shortcomings, Tigran Sargsyan effectively implemented the programs of the ruling party, the President and the Government.
These days there are rumors that the local self-government representatives who did not ensure a victory of the Republican candidate in the presidential election in their communities will lose their positions…
It is difficult to answer this question. Anyway, all the changes will depend on the efficiency of the work of officials.