Armenian presidential aide accuses authorities of inaction in summer

Armenian presidential aide accuses authorities of inaction in summer

Hayots Ashkarh, Yerevan
25 Aug 04

An interview with an advisor to the [Armenian] president, Garnik
Isagulyan. He comments on possible domestic political developments in
the autumn.

[Hayots Ashkarh correspondent] Mr Isagulyan, what strategy do you
think the opposition will adopt in the autumn? What developments can
we expect?

[Garnik Isagulyan] I do not think that in a strategic sense there will
be any change in the positions of the opposition. The pivot of their
demands will again be the president’s resignation. Some developments
are possible in the sense of people’s participation, as the end of the
harvest is nearing. Unfortunately, we cannot say that farmers are
fully satisfied by the sale of this year’s harvest or by attention of
relevant state structures. But it is difficult to say whether the
opposition will manage to have the support of people in the regions.

[Correspondent] Do you think that the authorities have failed to use
this relatively calm period to strengthen their positions?

[Isagulyan] We have managed to do little in this sense. I thought that
the known speech of the president in Strasbourg should have resulted
in increased activity on the part of the authorities. Unfortunately,
the expected changes in the country did not take place. The same
people work in the government. Prospects of real reforms of the
legislative field are still unclear. We have failed the dialogue with
the opposition on the election law. Moreover, the coalition forces
themselves failed to come to an agreement in this issue. Today’s
package of constitutional reforms does not considerably differ from
the previous ones. I think this will also create a certain basis for
the opposition activity.

[Correspondent] Is the opposition itself united to raise a new wave?

[Isagulyan] It does not matter. There have always been disagreements
among opposition leaders, there are still disagreements over the
successful fulfilment of their claims and over the role of the only
leader. This is natural. But the opposition was guided from a certain
centre, I mean the Armenian Pan-National Movement, and it will
continue guiding them. In case of any significant or minor wave of
displeasure, the opposition will immediately get united.

[Correspondent] What should the authorities do to stop such

[Isagulyan] Unfortunately, our political elite, in particular senior
officials, have always had one permanent shortcoming: when everything
is calm because of hot weather in the summer or cold in the winter,
everybody forget that the situation was completely different a month
or two months ago. Naturally, public discontent because of different
problems might grow if they are not resolved on time. This summer was
not an exception either. The ruling coalition found itself in an inert
situation, and as was the case last year, the parties were mainly
trying to strengthen their own position within the authorities.
People’s problems were ignored once again.

[Passage omitted: problems at entrance examinations; farmers have
problems buying fertilizers]