Armenian ministers told to make their relatives behave, says PM

Armenian ministers told to make their relatives behave, says PM

Hayastani Hanrapetutyun, Yerevan
18 Mar 04

Armenian Prime Minister Andranik Markaryan says he has told ministers
to “influence” their relatives to keep them out of criminal
incidents. Interviewed by the Armenian government newspaper, the PM
condemned the recent gunfight near a restaurant where the Armenian and
Georgian presidents were dining. (The son of the minister for town
planning is accused of involvement in the gunfight.) Dismissing the
opposition’s claims that they will overthrow the authorities in April,
Markaryan said that the government had tackled the tariff problems
raised by the opposition. The following is an excerpt from Gayane
Gasparyan’s interview with Markaryan published in Hayastani
Hanrapetutyun on 18 March and headlined “`Republican Party of Armenia
alongside law and state,’ Andranik Markaryan says”; subheadings
inserted editorially:

Ministers told to make their relatives behave

[Hayastani Hanrapetutyun correspondent] Rumours are circulating that the
police chief has been dismissed because of the recent incident not far
from the Aragast restaurant [the town planning minister’s son is
accused of firing a gun nearby when the Georgian and Armenian
presidents were in the restaurant].

[Andranik Markaryan] The dismissal of the police chief is ruled out,
as a change of job or dismissal in this system is not connected with
this incident.

[Correspondent] How do you assess the incident? What really took

[Markaryan] Naturally, I assess the incident negatively. The judicial
structures are dealing with this case and I do not want to interfere
in their business.

[Correspondent] How do you assess the fact that the children of some
top officials and members of the government find themselves in such
situations from time to time?

[Markaryan] I assess it negatively. I told the ministers during
government sessions to influence their relatives in order to rule out
such incidents.

[Correspondent] Did the sons of other members of the government
participate in the incident?

[Markaryan] No, they did not.

[Correspondent] Recently during one of the news conferences about
ArmenTel, Justice Minister David Arutyunyan said a government
reshuffle cannot be ruled out.

[Markaryan] I have always said this is a dynamic process. You will
know when a change takes place.

Proposed bill on return of deposits not a victory for Orinats Yerkir

[Correspondent] In a recent TV broadcast of “Khorirdanakan zham”
[Parliamentary Hour] the chairman of the National Assembly said that
the committee on deposits will submit a draft law to the National
Assembly and deposits will be returned. Does it mean that agreement
has been reached within the coalition on the deposits?

[Markaryan] There is agreement that a draft law will be made. There is
no other agreement yet.

[Correspondent] Do you think that the agreement on submitting the
draft law on the return of deposits was a victory for Orinats Yerkir
[Law-Governed Country Party]?

[Markaryan] No, I do not think so. Orinats Yerkir with its 20 deputies
could not force us take such a decision.

[Correspondent] There is a view that the term for submission of the
decision has been delayed in order to close down the problem.

[Markaryan] Time will tell.

Impossible for opposition to overthrow authorities today

[Correspondent] How do you assess the results of the ministers’ visits
to the regions? May programmes be changed as a result of these visits?

[Markaryan] Naturally they may. If there are urgent problems and sums
have been allocated to tackle them in the budget, but the process is
not managed well, changes may take place.

[Passage omitted: funds allocated to flood clear-up]

[Correspondent] The opposition is confidently announcing that in April
it will overthrow the “regime”. Will they manage to do this?

[Markaryan] This is their business. I do not know the techniques used
by them, but I think that it is impossible today.

[Correspondent] When will it be possible?

[Markaryan] In 2008.

[Correspondent] When members of the government visited the regions,
the people were very tense. Do you predict social revolt?

[Markaryan] I do not think that this year the living conditions of the
people are worse than in previous years. I also visited the
regions. The main discontent concerned the consequences of the
floods. The government responded to the problem immediately. I hope
that in future after floods we shall have definite compensation

Social revolt is impossible. The government has resolved the problems
raised by the opposition: the increase in tariffs for electricity,
water and gas. In particular, the government did not allow the
increase in the tariffs to lead to the worsening of people’s standard
of living, we gave compensation in the form of subsidies.

[Correspondent] Was it planned that the visits of government members
to the regions should coincide with the dates announced for opposition

[Markaryan] No, it was not. We visit the regions from time to time. A
group visit will be by the end of the year. We have adopted the
following policy: ministers should undoubtedly have contacts,
especially with the population of those regions where programmes are
being implemented.

[Correspondent] If the opposition acts according to the constitution
and their rallies are well-attended, in that case where will the RPA
[Republican Party of Armenia] be?

[Markaryan] We shall be alongside the law and the state.