ARF WARNS OF COUNTRY’S DEEP POLITICAL CRISIS
YEREVAN (RFE/RL-Yerkir)–Armenia reacted with relief on Monday to the dramatic but bloodless ouster of neighboring Georgia’s President Eduard Shevardnadze that seems to have ended a bitter post-election standoff–which threatened to have negative ramifications for the entire region.
President Robert Kocharian and other Armenian leaders said they are glad Georgia did not slip into chaos following three weeks of vocal opposition protests against the official results of the November 2 parliamentary elections.
"For us the best scenario was to have a certainty established in Georgia as soon as possible," Kocharian said. "In effect–this is what has happened."
Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian similarly welcomed the absence of "violence and great upheavals" in what has been touted as a "velvet revolution" in Tbilisi. "Armenia hopes that Georgia will quickly restore public calm and establish stability which is necessary not only for Georgia–but also Armenia and the entire region," he told a separate news conference.
Oskanian said the regime change–which ended a political era in Georgia–is unlikely to affect Georgian-Armenian relations. "At the moment–there is an acting president there and we will work with her and other relevant officials appointed by her," he said.
Shevardnadze stepped down on Sunday under strong pressure from the opposition which accused him of rigging the elections in favor of his loyalists. The resignation followed the previous day’s seizure of the parliament building and the presidential office in Tbilisi by opposition leaders–backed by tens of thousands of angry protesters. One of those leaders–speaker of the outgoing Georgian parliament Nino Burjanadze–took over as interim president and pledged to hold fresh presidential and parliamentary elections within 45 days.
Armenia’s National Assembly Speaker Artur Baghdasarian spoke to Burjanadze on Monday to discuss maintaining stability and constitutional order–as well as the formation of a legitimate government.
Burjanadze assured that the situation is under control–saying that "the gap between the government and the people has been mended through democratic means and under the constitution."
INDICATIONS OF DEEP CRISIS SAYS ARF
Armenian Revolutionary Federation Supreme Body member and National Assembly’s Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Armen Rustamian also welcomed the bloodless change of leadership in Georgia.
Rustamian–a member of the Armenian delegation to the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly–noted–however–that the problems that led to the present crisis still remain.
"This indicates that there is a deep political crisis in the country that should be resolved," Rustamian said. "It also indicates that the leadership did not control the situation in the whole country."
The ARF representative also said that "until the problems are resolved–no one can guarantee that the new elections would be conducted normally."
Oskanian noted that transportation of goods to Armenia via Georgia has not been interrupted. "Armenia will continue to cooperate with the Georgian leadership," he said.
Over 90 percent of Armenia’s external trade is carried out through Georgia and any disruption of those trade routes would seriously hurt the Armenian economy.