- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
 February 7, 2003 

Decision 2003: Meet the candidates

When Armenians elect a President February 19, their choices for leadership will range from the incumbent with five years at the post, to a pensioner.

Ten candidates are running, each with the belief that he is the best man to run the country. Some are veterans of Soviet and independent Armenia politics; others appeared in the political arena only a few months before the election campaign.

Most base their campaign platforms on improving social-economic conditions, a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict, strengthening ties with Diaspora and economic development of the country.

Following are sketches of each man's credentials and ideals.



Ruben Avagyan, chairman of the United Armenian Party and a director of Mants University in Armenia; served in various law enforcement bodies of Soviet Armenia. In 1995 he established and headed the International Law Department at the Ministry of Defense; resigned in 2000, with the rank of Colonel of National Security. Married, two children.

His pre-election program highlights constitutional reforms aimed at clear distinction of all functions of legislative, executive and judicial powers. The Armenian Cause (Hay Dat) will be a foreign policy priority. Adoption of dual citizenship and rehabilitation of free healthcare and education for socially vulnerable are among the top points of his program.


Stepan Demirchyan is Chairman of People's Party of Armenia, the party that was founded and led by his father Karen Demirchyan. Since 1988 till now he holds the position of Director of Mars Stock Company. He is married and has three daughters.

His election program says that all key positions in local authorities must be elected, not nominated. Relations with Russia are mainstream, demanding more close and efficient cooperation. Making the media into real Forth Power and absolute freedom to press regardless of its financial dependence of certain sources. In social policy he stresses special attention to healthcare and strengthening families.


Artashes Geghamyan, head of the National Unity Party, joined the Communist Party in 1972 and left it in 1990. Since 1995 he is a deputy of the National Assembly. He is married and has two sons.

Overcoming the general crisis in Armenia and building a civil society are the top issues of his program's home policy. It is necessary to establish a non-government agency to regulate the relations between Diaspora and the Armenian Government. National Unity believes it is dangerous to make populist promises of greater welfare without explaining where the welfare must come from.


Aram Harutyunyan, the head of National Conciliation party in 1998-1999 was on the Presidential Commission for Constitutional Reforms. In 2000 he founded and headed the National Conciliation Party. He is married and has one son.

He promotes a foreign policy based on political dialogue and fostering friendly relations with all countries. The policy conducted in the social sector will aim to reduce the extreme polarization of the society, that is to narrow the gap between the rich and poor. Culture is the major factor of the nation's survival and must be at the center of attention.


Aram Karapetyan in 1996-1999 took a doctorate course at the Institute of Social and Political research at the Russian Academy of Science. In 2002 he founded the "Perspektiva" Center for Strategic Studies in Yerevan. He is married and has two daughters.

He believes that for a sounder political field all political parties must re-apply for registration. Promotes signing communication transit agreements with Georgia and is in favor of taxing privatized but disused plants in order to press owners to either restart the enterprises or sell them to an investor or the State. A strategic center should be set up to design programs for 10-15 years.


Robert Kocharyan, the acting President of Armenia was holding the post of President of Nagorno-Karabagh in 1994-1997. In 1997 he was appointed as Prime-Minister of Armenia. In 1998 he won the post in run-off elections. He is married and has three children.

The focus of his program is aimed at laying the foundation of a law-guided state with international relations based on partnership and complementary policy. In economic policy he sees the necessity of creating new jobs, (40,000 each year) creating a favorable climate for investment and keeping the high GDP growth rate (eight to 10 percent per annum).


Vazgen Manukyan, the head of National Democratic Union was one of the founders of the Armenian National Democratic Union. In 1990-1991 held the post of Prime Minister of Armenia then was appointed as Minister of Defense. He ran a presidential campaign in 1996 and 1998. He is married and has three daughters.

In his election program he suggests a transition to a Parliamentary State and gives special attention to modern technology, integration into international trade and economic cooperation program, and creating better-paid jobs, which will reduce emigration and encourage repatriation.


Garnik Markaryan, the Chairman of the "Motherland and Honor" resigned from the post of the Head of the management Office of the Armenian Ministry of Interior in 1993 with the rank of National Security Colonel. He is married and has two children.

In his election platform he claims that the only solution to Armenia's problems is a complete obliteration of the current administration and its replacement by democratic socialism. The economy should be based on the equality of all types of property, whether state, collective or private.


Aram Sarksyan the head of the Democratic Party of Armenia ran for President in 1996 but withdrew his candidacy in favor of the united oppositional candidate. In 1998-1999 he was Foreign Policy Advisor to the President. He is married and has three children.

Sarksyan considers it necessary to prevent NATO from expanding eastward, averting the integration of Armenia and other Caucasus states into NATO.


Aram Sarksyan the Chairman of the Republic party (Hanrapetutyun) was Prime Minister of Armenia in 1999-2000. He is a member of Yerkrapah Volunteers Union. He is married and has three children.

In his pre-election program he claims that the hope of the country is opposition which needs to unite and an atmosphere of tolerance should be established in the country. Inter-party conflicts should be ended. He says that Armenia needs an economical breakthrough and sees the future in developing high-tech development and entering international markets.


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  Photos of the week
  Photo of the week: Talk Time
Click on the photo above to enlarge

Photo of the week: Talk Time
Click on the photo above to enlarge

Ups and Downs of Campaign 2003

In the second week of campaigning, crowds turned out to cheer President Robert Kocharyan. And a crowd turned riotous at a rally for Aram Karapetyan, leaving MP Hayk Babukhanyan recovering from a stabbing.



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