Parliamentary Speaker Fears for Armenia’s Future


Haykakan Zhamanak, Yerevan
24 Apr 04

Text of Naira Zograbyan report by Armenian newspaper Haykakan Zhamanak
on 24 April headlined “The National Assembly chairman is concerned

The assessments given yesterday at a news conference by the National
Assembly chairman, Artur Bagdasaryan, are diametrically opposed to
other top officials’ assessments of the country. While the president
thinks that the country’s further development is in no danger and
continues to construct the country, and the opposition, which has no
other toy, is conducting rallies, yesterday the National Assembly
chairman presented to journalists a scenario in which Armenia’s future
is threatened if the domestic political conflict continues developing
according to this logic and the parties refuse to negotiate.

“Mutual avoidance of negotiations will lead to unpleasant events,
which we have already had. If events continue to develop as at
present, we shall lag behind democratic values, as the authorities,
which are based on keeping law and order, are starting to apply
force. So, the right of force goes ahead and policy falls back.

“The situation in foreign policy also causes concern: Armenia’s
international authority is being damaged, which is a blow to the
country, and the further worsening of events will prompt developments
which will go beyond the framework of democracy and will cause harsh
international assessments. If events develop in this way, Armenia’s
membership of the Council of Europe may be discussed at any time. This
means the country will be isolated internationally and under a
political and economic blockade. And all of us can see this
happening.” This is what the National Assembly chairman predicted for

So what is to be done? According to Artur Bagdasaryan, although it is
very difficult to find a way out of the prevailing situation,
nevertheless dialogue is again the main solution. So, before the next
resolute rally of the opposition on 27 April, the National Assembly
chairman invites the political forces to negotiations at 1800 (1300
gmt) on 26 April on the situation in the country. By the way, Artur
Bagdasaryan again reconfirmed what he had said during his previous
news conference that the arrests on political grounds and the
“pogroms” of the opposition parties’ offices alienate Armenia from
democratic values.

He was the only top official of Armenia to condemn yesterday the
violence against Ashot Manucharyan (a member of the political council
of the Armenian Socialist Forces and ex-interior minister, who was
beaten up in the street on 22 April). Touching on the attack on the
demonstrators on 13 April, Artur Bagdasaryan again recalled the
structure that is responsible for guarding the National Assembly
building (i.e. the police and not Bagdasaryan himself). He also
advised journalists to think why it is advantageous for some people to
point the finger at the National Assembly. And though on 27 April, on
the day of the opposition’s rally, he again will not be responsible
for the security of the National Assembly building, yesterday he
informed journalists that from 1800 on 27 April the National Assembly
door will be sealed on his orders.