YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The speaker of Armenia’s parliament said President Robert Kocharian is against pre-term parliamentary elections and wants the current National Assembly to complete its four-year term–expiring in summer 1999. Speaker Khosrov Harutiunian on Tuesday denied reports that during one of his recent meetings with Kocharian the latter favored early legislative polls. Speaking to reporters Tuesday–Harutiunian claimed he and Kocharian believe that the parliament should be dissolved only if there is a "political crisis" in the country.
The idea of fresh elections is advocated by several political parties allied with Kocharian. The most influential among them is the Armenian Revolutionary Party–represented in the government with two ministers. The parties say the composition of the current parliament–elected in 1995 in what international monitors said were "free but not fair" elections–does not reflect existing realities. Kocharian–for his part–has yet to publicly formulate his position on the issue.
Harutiunian also said full passage of new electoral legislation by the parliament is unlikely before its upcoming summer recess. He said that the law will most probably be passed next fall. But he suggested that deputies may agree on its basic principles during this session.
In a separate development–Harutiunian on Tuesday joined Armenia’s leadership in thanking the French parliament for its recognition on May 29 of the 1915 Armenian Genocide. Reading out a letter to his French counterpart Laurent Fabius–he said "it is not just the Armenian people but also the world that needs international recognition of the genocide."
" By condemning this crime against humanity–the Turkish people would rid themselves from an obstacle to their democratic development," he concluded.