Ultimatums no way to reach settlement, Armenia’s speaker says

Ultimatums no way to reach settlement, Armenia’s speaker says

Aravot, Yerevan
14 Apr 04

The chairman of the Armenian parliament, Artur Bagdasaryan, has said
that political consultations between the government and opposition
should continue. “We cannot reach political settlement by means of
ultimatums,” he told Armenian newspaper Aravot. “Confrontation,
artificial tension will complicate the situation more.” Bagdasaryan
rejected the description of the dispersal of the opposition’s sit-down
strike as a “military operation”, but condemned the violence against
journalists. The following is the text of Margarit Yesayan’s interview
with Bagdasaryan in Aravot on 14 April headlined “We shall not reach
political dialogue by means of ultimatums”; subheadings inserted

An interview with chairman of the National Assembly Artur Bagdasaryan.

[Aravot correspondent] Mr Bagdasaryan, on 12 April a group of deputies
wanted to meet you, but they were not allowed to enter the National
Assembly. Don’t you think that you’ve been rather aloof?

[Artur Bagdasaryan] Since I was elected chairman of the National
Assembly, no deputy has had difficulty meeting me or talking to me by
phone. Moreover, during these tense days I had meetings with the
leaders and members of the opposition and we discussed the actions
necessary to get out of this domestic political situation. In addition
I had numerous telephone conversations with them and they asked me to
talk with the law-enforcement agencies about their problems. As for 12
April, you know very well that the sitting of the National Assembly
did not take place in order not to aggravate the situation further. At
1800 I left the building of the National Assembly. So there was not a
problem about not meeting them, my door is always open to deputies.

Not responsible for police guarding parliament

[Correspondent] The leader of the Justice bloc, Stepan Demirchyan,
said that you are responsible for what happened after midnight,
because the troops that attacked the sit-in came out from the National

[Bagdasaryan] This is either Stepan Demirchyan’s subjective view or he
does not know the law about guarding the National Assembly
building. Armenian police guard the building, it is not the National
Assembly chairman who guards it.

[Correspondent] Do you not think that in this situation the coalition
should express its political position, not only by refusing to attend
National Assembly sittings but also by assessing the situation?

[Bagdasaryan] The coalition did not conduct the 12-14 April sittings
of the National Assembly and, in this connection, made a specific
political comment in its statement. And it is difficult to say if
there would have been worse events if the sitting had taken place. In
addition, let us not forget that the opposition has not taken part in
National Assembly sittings for a long time. Whereas I am sure that we
should find the key to settle political problems in parliament. As for
the coalition’s political assessment of the current situation, I think
the coalition member-parties will talk about this concretely.

No military operation took place, violence against journalists

[Correspondent] It is obvious that military actions were applied
against peaceful and unarmed people. Who will be responsible for the
violation? What international assessment will be given to all this?

[Bagdasaryan] First, I do not think that “military actions” took
place. Bagramyan Avenue was closed, traffic was stopped, the police
were trying to open the street and ensure normal traffic. I am against
violations and I censure what happened to the journalists. The rest
will be clarified by the investigation. I think that first we
ourselves should understand and assess the reasons for and
consequences of what happened in our country, then we should listen to
the views of other countries.

[Correspondent] There are rumours that the prosecutor-general is going
to enter parliament to arrest some deputies. Will you please comment
on this?

[Bagdasaryan] At present as chairman of the National Assembly I have
no information about the arrest of some deputies. My attitude towards
the arrest of deputies is negative, as political problems should be
settled in the political field, and crimes should be punished
according to the criminal code.

Dialogue only solution

[Correspondent] What do you suggest at this moment in connection with
the domestic political situation?

[Bagdasaryan] I am sure that political consultations should continue
and we should be able to find political solutions. I have already made
relevant political statements in connection with this. We cannot reach
political settlement by means of ultimatums, as it may have a
short-term, but never a long-term, positive result both for political
forces and for society. Confrontation, artificial tension will
complicate the situation more. Only political discussions, the
settlement of the accumulated problems by means of political dialogue
and talks may lead us to development.