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