- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
 April 11, 2003 

"To Faithfully Follow . . .": Robert Kocharyan begins second term

Robert Kocharyan has begun his second term as President of Armenia, following Wednesday's inauguration in the Government Building.

The 48-year old President and his family were escorted to the ceremonies at 1 p.m. and were met by political and religious dignitaries who witnessed the President place his hand on a seventh-century Bible (brought from the Institute of Manuscripts) and take his oath to:

"Faithfully follow the requirements of the Constitution, to respect human rights and the rights and liberties of citizens, to protect the independence, territorial integrity and security of the Republic for the glory of our Fatherland and for the well-being of our people."

The head of the Armenian Church Catholicos Garegin II gave his blessing to the president, praising Kocharyan's weighty contributions to the restoration of Armenia's independence in Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh.

Government members, foreign ambassadors and deputies as well as several high-ranking guests from Russia, such as Minister of Industry, Science and Technology of Russia Ilya Klebanov, Vice Speaker of Russia's State Duma Artur Chilingarov, and Russian conductor Vladimir Spivakov were present at the event.

A press room was set up for members of the media to view the ceremonies via television monitors.

During an address of about seven minutes, the president expressed his gratitude to all those who echoed his appeal for working together and for the vote of confidence to him. He said that the direct and active contacts with people during his election campaign was an exciting learning experience for him.

The President swore oath on an ancient Bible and the Constitution."Each election is a challenge for the people and the state. However, elections come to an end, and one resumes day-to-day work aimed at overcoming problems faced by the nation," he said.

Labor took a central theme of the inaugural address.

"There is only one solution to all of our problems: labor," Kocharyan said. "Labor shall be the key to economic progress and prosperity for each and every one of us. I call upon all of our citizens to embark upon peaceful and creative labor; to be more proactive and courageous in the small and medium business sector, in particular. The middle class cannot be created by fiat from above. You are the ones who can make it happen."

His speech also mentioned that the fight against corruption, clanship, and patronage must become another priority in his government's work. The efficiency of this fight would depend on the political will of the authorities and the civic activity of people.

The solutions of these and many more issues will largely depend on the forthcoming parliamentary elections, the president said, adding that the elections next month must be conducted with minimum irregularities.

"Dear compatriots," President Kocharyan concluded, "by taking upon myself the duties of the President of the Republic of Armenia, I recognize that I have undertaken a historic responsibility. The pursuit of national interests, the step-by-step implementation of the age-old dreams of our people, and the construction of an independent, democratic, and prosperous Armenia are the only ways forward. I complete this address by stating my belief that in five years, I shall report to our people to have conformed with their hopes and justified their confidence."

While the President was delivering his speech the central streets of Yerevan were cordoned by police to prevent a march by oppositional forces to the Government Building.

Earlier thousands of people gathered near Matenadaran to protest the inauguration. Hanrapetutyan Party chairman Albert Bazeyan read out a statement calling the parliamentarians not to participate in the inauguration of the president "who was elected by falsifications".

Dignitaries congratulated the President and his wife,  Bella.The participants of the rally failed to reach the Government Building and some injuries and arrests were reported as a result of clashes with police.

The ceremony was boycotted by Kocharyan's main challenger, Stepan Demirchan and by forty-eight deputies.

"The mass violation during the presidential elections seriously questioned Kocharyan's victory therefore the inauguration is out of the question," Demirchayn said.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Vardan Oskanian told journalists after the ceremony that he regretted that the oppositional deputies as well as the first President of Armenia Levon Ter-Petrosyan were not present.

"If they were present we could show the world that we are a civilized country," Oskanian said. "Unfortunately it did not happen."


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  Photo of the week
  Drawing Criticism
Click on the photo above to enlarge

Drawing Criticism

An exhibition of cartoons has been on display at Moscow Cinema since April 1. It is the first such exhibit in 17 years and not everybody is pleased about whose work was included. Among the aggrieved was this group of young cartoonists whose cartoons were not selected. They rallied outside the cinema Monday, wearing their work.



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