YEREVAN–Asbarez executive editor John Kossakian–who is currently in Armenia–met with Armenia’s Acting President and the front runner in Monday’s presidential poll Robert Kocharian–who allotted time from his busy schedule to discuss election-related matters with Asbarez. Below is the English translation of that interview:
John Kossakian: On March 30 the Armenian people will elect its second president. What would you like to see the new president accomplish during his first year in office? Robert Kocharian: First of all Armenia will be facing economic reform issues–for which constitutional amendmen’s will be required. Of course–the economic reforms must assist in bringing the people out of this grave [economic] situation–and the amendmen’s must be aimed at fostering stable policies. These are the issues facing the new president in the first year.
The more active participation of the Diaspora in Armenia’s life–and primarily in economic development–also should not be delayed. The participation of small and mid-sized Armenian businesses are very integral. Armenian capital must be included in Armenia’s economy with the principle of mutual profit–which will be protected by law.
J.K.: Diaspora-Armenia’s believe that with your election–Diaspora-Armenian relations would improve. If elected–what new mechanisms will you create to ensure cooperation between Armenia and the Diaspora?
R.K.: First of all–a governmental body must be created to work with the Diaspora and come up with a prospectus on Diaspora-Armenia relations. All laws and obstacles which hinder the Diaspora’s participation in Armenian life must be revoked.
The reality that Armenia has much to do for the Diaspora–must also be taken into consideration–especially within the spheres of cultural preservation–preparation of textbooks etc.
Armenia must become an interesting business arena for the Diaspora and not merely remain a relief or charitable outlet. Investmen’s must be made and businesses must be established… Each Diaspora Armenian must have his/her home and business in the homeland.
J.K.: You have articulated this concept once before in one of your speeches. What do you mean by ‘every Armenian must have a home…’?
R.K.: If an individual has a home and business in Armenia–then that person would visit Armenia at least twice a year to take care of his business… In my opinion–Diaspora-Armenia relations must be productive and not merely emotional. When that productive tie has been created–then the Diaspora will have a more active role in the strengthening of Armenia and will become more active in Armenia’s foreign policy realm.
J.K.: Being familiar with your radical political posturing–we are certain that–if elected–you will not pursue the same defeatist polices as your predecessors. However–how will you be able to confront pressures from nations that have a strategic-political interests in the region?
R.K.: The issue of such pressures has been severely exaggerated. I believe that it is possible to have flexible policies without compromising one’s principles. Levon Ter-Petrosyan was not conducting policy because of those pressures–but rather that was his conviction. It was his approach. Whether or not there were pressures–that was his ideology.
J.K.: What is you message to the Diaspora-Armenia’s?
R.K.: Let’s wait a couple of days and see who will get elected. I’ll say it after being elected.