YEREVAN (Combines Sources)–With less than a week to go before Armenia’s April 9 presidential inauguration, outgoing President Robert Kocharian bid farewell to the Armenian Government Friday and thanked its members for a decade of service and cooperation.
Kocharian said he was grateful for the opportunity to serve the Republic of Armenia for the past ten years. In reflecting on his term in office, the outgoing president said the last decade was an extremely interesting period for Armenia. They were difficult years, he said, but they were also very important for the republic.
Large-scale reforms for the modernization of the country have been made in all areas and the results are obvious, he said. The country has boasted double digit economic growth for much of Kocharian’s administration.
He said the quality of life for Armenian citizens has considerably improved, but explained that much more still needs to done.
“The new president and the new government are facing numerous challenges and problems whose solution will be no less difficult and important for the country,” Kocharian said, referring to second-generation economic reforms.
The future will not be easier for Armenia and its authorities, he said. With a global economy recession looming, Armenia’s authorities will need greater will, force, and energy to overcome the coming challenges, he added.
The most important problem Armenia faces, however, is its security, Kocharian said.
“The world has not become more secure in recent years and our region continues to be full of contradictions,” he said. “Consistent steps must be taken to strengthen the country’s security and increase the fighting efficiency of the army.”
But this should all be reinforced with stronger democratic institutions and a flexible and adequate diplomacy, according to him.
“There are forces which do not want Armenia to become a stable and prosperous country. Unfortunately, there are also figures who are ready to serve this purpose,” he declared.
“A weak country susceptible to influence can neither ensure its security, the security of its citizens, nor any of the democratic achievemen’s we have made over the years,” Kocharian explained. “My wish is that the future president and government will succeed in giving an adequate response to these challenges in their work.”
In a press conference following his government visit, Kocharian told reporters that Azerbaijan’s attempts to exploit the internal political situation in Armenia in order to influence Karabakh peace negotiations have left Armenia little choice but to become more resolute.
"I think Azerbaijan’s recent actions oblige Armenia to undertake decisive actions,” Kocharian said. “These actions should be decided by the New President and Government."
The possibility of compromise for Armenia is out of the question, Kocharian said, adding that he does not rule out the possibility of Armenia’s recognition of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
According to Kocharian, the best guarantee for a strong position in the Karabakh negotiations is Armenia’s stability and further development.
Answering questions by reporters about the March 1 unrest, Kocharian said that it has already become apparent that the disorders were organized and not organic.
Meanwhile, commenting on the possibility of dialogue between the authorities and former president Levon Ter-Petrosian, Kocharian told reporters that he would not engage in dialogue with those who have violated the law. The question of establishing dialogue with the former president would be the next president’s responsibility, he added.
“I’m not ready for any dialogue and I think that people who have committed criminally punishable deeds must be held accountable by law,” he said. “The new Government and parliamentary forces may discuss the opportunity for such a dialogue. But it is first necessary to clarify the framework of such a dialogue: with whom and on what issues,” he added.
Commenting on the possibility of holding snap parliamentary elections, Kocharian told reporters that there is no need to hold extraordinary elections because the National Assembly is not paralyzed by deadlock.