Swiss Ambassador to Armenia Lukas Gasser: Switzerland will try to contribute to a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict without questioning the established formats such as the OSCE Minsk process
Interview of the head of the Armenian National Congress parliamentary faction Levon Zurabyan with Arminfo news agency
by Ashot Safaryan
Mr Zurabyan, the authorities of Armenia reiterate many times about their readiness to sign the association Agreement in Vilnius, whereas the Europeans do not support such passion saying it is impossible to separate the political component of the Association Agreement from the economical one – DCFTA. What are the possible scenarios of the process? Will any document be signed in Vilnius?
In the wake of unhealthy secrecy of negotiations with EU, it is difficult to forecast anything ahead of Vilnius Summit. The ruling regime in Armenia keeps in secrecy the content of the negotiations with the European Union. In the wake of such unhealthy confidentiality, it is very difficult to forecasts if any document will be signed in Vilnius or not. The genuine efforts had been made to prepare the country for signing the Association Agreement with the EU, including DCFTA, for 3.5 years. All this paled into insignificance overnight, after Serzh Sargsyan adopted a decision to access the Customs Union. I do not think it normal that such decisions are not discussed with the Armenian public and political forces. Serzh Sargsyan has entered some secret deals, which has shattered confidence of European partners in Armenia. Sargsyan said one thing in Moscow and another thing in Brussels. He negotiated with the EU concealing the key elements of that process from Moscow. Now, it has turned out that he negotiated also for accession to the Customs Union and concealed it from Brussels.
But the Europeans said nothing about the points of this document…
I am sure that this would never happen in a democratic country. The president and the foreign minister of a democratic country would inform the people at least of the basic provisions of the document to be signed and the country's course for the coming years.
How much realistic is Armenia’s joining the Customs Union taking into consideration the absence of the common border?
The Armenian public knows nothing about what is the Customs Union, how they will settle the key problems, including absence of borders with other Customs Union member-states. Actually, two factors determined the decision to access the Customs Union - security of Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh and Serzh Sargsyan's vulnerability to external pressure, including from Russia, because of his illegitimate power.
Did the president adopt a decision on setting up of the commission for constitution reforms as a step towards the parliamentary government system?
The goal of the Constitutional reform in Armenia is to ensure 'power for life' for Serzh Sargsyan. The president of Armenia is approaching the end of his tenure and is gradually losing his influence. That is why he has recently adopted a decision to set up a Commission for Constitutional Reform to change the system of government in the country from the presidential to the parliamentary one.Sargsyan's team is extremely concerned about who will come to replace Sargsyan on the post of the president. Discrepancies inside the ruling party will keep growing. Such situation is called a 'lame duck syndrome' in the US political science. Serzh Sargsyan's evident failures have even more exacerbated that syndrome and increase overall nervousness in the Republican Party. Therefore, they pulled that gimmick with transition to the parliamentary system of government. It was a peculiar alarm to Sargsyan's team, which means that the president will retain his power in a new status of the prime minister. The decision to set up the Commission for Constitutional Reforms has become a peculiar lifebelt for the 'lame duck'". I am confident that the public must realize the danger of that step by the RPA leader. In a parliamentary republic, a party can participate in the parliamentary elections without any restrictions and terms. I recommend those who support the parliamentary system of government to think well before helping Serzh Sargsyan to get "power for life".
Let’s talk about the role of the opposition in this situation. Will it going to confront such attempts?
Everybody noticed that the entrance of the Armenian National Congress in the National Assembly promoted much the consolidation of all the opposition factions on the key issues. The four factions - ANC, Prosperous Armenia, Heritage and ARF Dashnaktiutyun voted against the programme of the government, against adoption of the budget in the form submitted by the government. These factions voted for adoption of the draft law on setting up of the commission to investigate tragic events in March 2008. They also voted for adoption of the new Electoral Code which would make it possible to reduce the possibility of the election fraud much. They also voted for the draft law on de-monopolization of economy. Actually, the opposition is ready to take more radical measures up to expressing impeachment to president Serzh Sargsyan. Of course, we still see not enough political conditions for raising of this problem, as we need a situation when even the people from the ruling majority will join the opposition. I do not rule out such a situation in future.
Is Prosperous Armenia Party also ready to raise the presidential impeachment?
Of course, it is still early to speak about the accord of all the opposition factions. I mean not only the PAP. Even we are not ready to that today. We think that the moment has not ripened yet. But in general we manage to find contact point with the PAP and the rest forces on many issues.