Internet Press Conference with Raffi Hovannisian

Joint Internet press conferences with leading experts from different countries on the topical issues of the modern times are organized within the framework of the project, entitled "Enhancing knowledge and understanding of ‘the other side’ by Armenians and Azerbaijani through Alternative and First-Hand Information". This project, implemented by Region Research Center (Armenia) and the Institute for Peace and Democracy (Azerbaijan), is supported by the British Embassies in Armenia and Azerbaijan.  

David Stepanyan, "Arminfo" news (Armenia)

1.Your faction has many times raised the issue of the expediency of acknowledging the independence of NKR by Armenia. Could we say that in case you win the upcoming Presidential elections, this issue can be considered resolved?

-Yes, the Mountainous Karabakh Republic and the Republic of Azerbaijan of our times should be acknowledged as territories within the new, post-Soviet borders. At the same time the issues of demarcation lines and the establishment of good-neighborly relations between them, the systematization of security guarantees and the restoration of communication, as well as the guaranteed voluntary return of refugees of all nationalities should be solved through interstate negotiations.
2.In the upcoming elections a contender of yours, Aram Harutyunyan stated that both you and the former Prime-Minister Hrant Bagratyan “were candidates from the authorities.” What do you think caused your contender to make such a statement?
-I respect everyone, including all my opponents, as well as their right to express their viewpoints, but I do not respond to lies.
3.Besides you, there are 7 other candidates who will participate in the upcoming Presidential elections in Armenia. Which of them do you think will be your most serious competitor?
-The incumbent de-facto president will be my main contender, and the struggle will be fought between the ordinary citizens of Armenia and their candidate on the one side and the ruling authorities on the other. Armenia is but one, and we must decide what it is going to be like – a free and open Armenia, or a shadow Armenia, whether it will belong to the ordinary citizen or it will cringe before the authorities. I also respect my rivals who will act as such for the time being but who will become my allies in the future – Paruyr Hayrikyan, Hrant Bagratyan, Arman Melikyan and all those who are truly willing to change Armenia for the better by all possible means. Those who do not go to the polling stations on February 18 and rather sit at home will contribute to the continuation of the shadow Armenia that has cowered before the incumbent power. In the given case Serzh Sargsyan, Raffi Hovannisian and all the others are fighting for the second place, because in the course of the 21-year history of independent Armenia finally the citizen of Armenia should be given the priority.
Artak Barseghyan, Public Radio of (Armenia)
1.Mr. Hovannisian, who do you see in the post of the Prime Minister of Armenia in case you are elected into office?
-Currently, I am not negotiating over this matter with anyone. There are many respectable candidates in different circles, among political party members and the representatives of civil society, and in professional communities, too. And if the candidate is someone deserving, even if he/she has worked with the previous authority (I acted as opponent to them all, with no exception), I will then invite that person over. I am proud of the path the Heritage party has covered and my colleagues in the party, who always stood next to the people while solving national issues or problems related to democracy, who were in the square during the March 1st tragedy (the politician means the clash that took place between the marchers and the defense and law enforcement agencies on March 1st, 2008 – Comment by editor). But they are not candidates for the Prime Minister’s position. The presidential candidate nominated by the Heritage party is a civil candidate, and I am not calling on people to unite around my person, around Raffi Hovannisian. It is important to realize the necessity to overcome the rupture between the civil society and political processes. This month should be the time to build an atmosphere of trust and to make our human rights advocates, environmentalists and other activists participate in these processes. I respect the decision made by anyone, and even the decisions not to participate in the elections, although from my perspective this is quite surprising for forces represented in parliament. But I also know that hundreds of thousands of citizens would be happy to see changes happen, they want to change our country, and this change will take place if everyone takes part. If they do not want to see Raffi there, let them vote for the one they would prefer to be their president. I respect those candidates who at the most difficult moment made up their minds not to sit about and were nominated as candidates. And finally I think that the struggle will take place between two forces – the citizens of today and tomorrow and the ruling powers.
2.Do you think the alliance with the Free Democrats should be considered a mistake?
-No, it was not a mistake. The conduct and the deception by one single person, and my trust for those deceptive words were the mistakes. As I have said many times, the Heritage party and I personally have always gone for creative measures for consolidation. Five years ago we proposed Rafayel Ghazaryan (an academician at the RA National Academy of Sciences and a member of the Karabakh Committee – Comment by editor) to head our slate; similarly this time we propose human rights advocates, environmentalists and so on to cooperate. There are a lot of good young people among those very Free Democrats. Now we are in the process of establishing our committees and if they are ready and willing to serve our ideas and cause, we will not discriminate. Solutions for consolidation are necessary, and every party must find a solution beyond its own resources and in the civil sector, too. The mistake was the conduct of one single person, and I do not want to blame everyone else.
Natig Javadli, "Bizim Yol" (Azerbaijan)
-Mr. Hovannisian, how do you classify the pro-Russian and pro-Western forces in our country? Which sentiments – pro-Russian or pro-Western – would you think are stronger?
-In Armenia it is necessary to restore absolute respect for our own sovereignty, because only in that case will we be able to lead a modern international policy, based on our own vital interests, at the same time respecting all but not surrendering to any vertical pressures. For example, Armenia and Russia still have some unused potential to establish real and strategic relations with each other, relations to be reformatted into modern horizontal correlations and harmonious in the post-Soviet context. Armenia, as one of the ancient sources of Western civilization, must be able to return to its democratic essence and spiritual values, and in so doing become a full member of the European Union. Armenia must ensure its security in the West and in the East, establishing a system of bilateral relations with all its partners without any compulsory and formal participation in any collective organization.
Tarana Kyazimova, "Turan" news (Azerbaijan)
-How would you assess the five-year Presidency of your main contender Serzh Sargsyan?
-I would assess it negatively and I would qualify it as activity that needs urgent alterations.
Gagik Baghdasaryan, "News Armenia" news (Armenia)
-Are you ready to congratulate Serzh Sargsyan on February 19 in case he wins?
-In case we have the first free and fair elections ever since 1991, we will finally have a de jure President and he, being elected by the people, will deserve congratulations from everybody. In that case my accountable and transparent
service for the period of five years would be more important to me than the congratulations received from Serzh Sargsyan and my compatriots. And if, during our elections, the sad and notorious tradition of falsifications continues
directly or indirectly, overtly or covertly, the struggle of the Armenian people for their country, their own being, identity, and dignity will have to continue by all possible means. We all realize that in case we go on with the same rates of
poverty, unemployment, emigration, and injustice, we will have an ultimate disruption between the citizens and their state. We cannot afford the luxury of continuing all this for five more years.
Aydin Kerimov, "Novoye Vremya" (Azerbaijan)
-In case you are elected President, what kind of relations do you envisage between Armenia and Azerbaijan in terms of the resolution of the Karabakh conflict?
-No matter how hard it may be we must all get ready for the prospect that in this changing world, and in this region, the states of Azerbaijan, MKR and Armenia, and their peoples, must lead peaceful lives in good-neighborly relations,
and ultimately come to share the same value system. The path to such a prospect presumes the continuation of multilateral civil, political, professional and interpersonal contacts, because the alternative to it is war, which is
unfortunately mentioned by our officials more and more frequently. But war is the initiative of the weak and it will become a curse onto all of us, and its initiator in the first place.
Emil Babayan, correspondent of "Regnum" news agency in
-Mr. Hovannisian, you do not have any chances to be elected the President of Armenia in 2013. What is the point of your participation in the race for the position of the head of the state?
-This is rather an opinion than a question. But I respect this opinion. One can make mathematical prognosis, become a clairvoyant, but the only thing predetermined in this world is the will of God. The one who says that the outcomes
of these elections are predetermined, and there are no chances, imagines himself/herself to be God and unwillingly mocks at the power of the citizens to defend their own rights and dignity. The life of peoples and nations develops in
stages, and I do not agree with such an opinion.


30 January, 2014
Right after the New Year, the citizens of Armenia were shocked by the gas and electricity bills for December.

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