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ArmInfo’s Interview with Eduard Sharmazanov, Vice Speaker of Armenian Parliament, Spokesman for Republican Party of Armenia
by Tatevik Shahunyan
Mr. Sharmazanov, how do you assess the current domestic political situation in the republic given the new wave of civic movements, which are displeased with the latest decisions of the authorities?
The current domestic political situation in Armenia meets the logic of natural democratic processes characteristic of any country that chooses the law-governed path of development. So, the active steps of the civic movements in Armenia are a quite normal phenomenon.
Don’t you think that the civic movements express the growing public discontent with the authorities’ steps and that the discontent may develop into mass actions of civil disobedience?
I do not think this may develop into structural processes of disobedience. There are no prerequisites for that and the opposition camp has no leader capable of steering the people. One of the opposition leaders is retired; the other one is constantly travelling. After all, we should realize that any destabilization damages the state but does not resolve the problems. I think the fact that the civic movements are speeding up efforts has nothing to do with deterioration of the situation in the republic. I think it only demonstrates the consistency of our civil activists. Nevertheless, I am not inclined to think that everything is ideal in the country. The country with 35% of its population below the poverty line cannot be ideal. In the meantime, I should say that the social situation in the country can be improved by means of reforms, not actions of protest.
What’s the problem then?
There is no problem. We are conducting the reforms step by step. The wages of state employees, for instance, will grow on 1 July 2014.
Do you think it’s enough?
It is one of the steps. We are working to remove the problems. Unfortunately, we have no Aladdin’s lamp to resolve all the problems at once. We can follow the other political forces’ example and point at the shortcomings, naming 112 items instead of 12. No mediators are needed between the authorities and the people. We perfectly see the problems and strive to solve them. Let’s refer to the facts. All the forces criticizing us today were at power not so long ago. Some of them were unable to provide the republic with electricity and heating, others tried to take great merit to themselves and shift the blame for the negative processes. It is necessary to work, not to speak. I think someday the doubletalk of the non-coalition forces will lead to an internal conflict. Even now they have discrepancies about the constitutional reforms. Today Armenia has numerous social problems, the unresolved Karabakh conflict, the closed border with Turkey, etc. But we have an action plan to resolve the problems. I think Armenia’s Eurasian integration, i.e. Armenia’s accession to the Customs Union will boost the economy and create prerequisites for settlement of the social problems.
Mr. Sharmazanov, you are constantly speaking of step-by-step reforms. The Republican Party of Armenia has been the ruling party of the country for over 15 years. Wasn’t this time enough to conduct tangible reforms?
Well, how long will it take you to show the tangible results of your reforms to the society?
I'd better repeat the words of deceased Prime Minister Andranik Margaryan: nobody will remember what has been done and everybody will remember what has not been done. I can bring numerous examples of large-scale projects and programs we have implemented. Certainly, you will say that we should not boast of it because we are the power and we must do our job. No argument there. Anyway, despite our flaws, the society still pins its hopes on the Republican Party.
Do you think it still does?
It will be clear in 2017. Last year the mayoral elections in Yerevan demonstrated that the public sentiments did not change at least.
Mr. Sharmazanov, the President of Armenia has initiated constitutional reforms. The public opinion is not unambiguous. Not all people think that the existing problems can be resolved by means of amendments to the Basic Law. What is your position?
I think now it's the best time to conduct constitutional reforms between the general elections. I believe that the constitutional reforms will allow improving the public administration, creating more efficient mechanisms to protect human rights and balance the powers of the power branches.
Nevertheless, the radical problems in the republic such as corruption, shadow, and protectionism cannot be solved by the constitutional reforms…
The settlement of these problems needs two prerequisites – a relevant legislative base and a political will.
Which one is missing?
There are both a legislative base and a political will. The problem is that it is very hard for the countries with such a low social level to combat these phenomena. Einstein says, 'We cannot solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them'. Probably, the constitutional reforms will help us form new thinking.
You have mentioned in your interview that the opposition has no leader. Given the latest domestic political processes, don't you think that the second president of Armenia Robert Kocharyan is entering the arena as a new opposition leader?
If you mean Robert Kocharyan's recent frequent interviews on the ongoing developments in the country, I think that the second president, like any other citizen of Armenia, expresses his point of view. Actually, I think that new realities are being formed in Armenia, where the role of a particular personality is leveled out, while the role of political forces is growing.