The Public Council Has a Serious Mission


Hayots Ashkhar Daily
Published on July 19, 2008

Interview with KHOSROV HAROUTYUNYAN, chairman of the Armenian
Chrstian-Democratic Party and member of the committee coordinating the
organization activities of the Public Council

`Mr. Haroutyunyan, what has your committee managed to do so far?’

`In the course of the past month, the committee carried out its work
with great responsibility. Robert Amirkhanyan, Tovmas Poghosyan, Emil
Gabrielyan and the others have initiated intensive work. In the working
groups consisting of 10-15 members ` citizens and representatives of
public organizations, we discuss all the issues concerning the Public
Council. Those discussions are not only useful but also instructive.

Our principal goal is to take maximum advantage of the situation and
change the fragile achievement into a system. Regardless the future
representatives of the government and the opposition, the
interrelations and ratio between them, the voice of the people should
be heard by the authorities. And the authorities should always feel
that they are the organizers of the process of rendering public
services. And the Public Council has its own role in this process.

The Public Council should be responsible for such functions and
missions that cannot be implemented by other state government bodies.
It may not repeat the activities to
be implemented by other structures.
If some state government body works improperly, it is necessary to
reform it and not set up a new body instead of it. The Public Council
should find out what gaps it may bridge in the state government system
without repeating the functions of any state government body.

Let’s agree that we had a well-organized, strong and determined
opposition in the past. Let’s recall at least what was going on in
1996. However, there was no situation like this because the authorities
were not politically mature then. This is the peculiarity of the
present-day situation. To miss this chance will mean to be badly
mistaken and be too open-handed despite the limited public potentials.

The Public Council must be able to achieve a serious turning point,
eliminate the divide between the authorities and society and make the
voice and concerns of the people heard by the country’s top leadership.
The activities of the Public Council should contribute to the
normalization of the moral-psychological atmosphere of the public. And
this pre-supposes the participation of the citizens in decision-making

Up to the second half of the 1990’s, we had never had a
non-professional government. The Government had never been in a state
of idleness but the public demands were not satisfied, and the people
were discontent despite the fact that life constantly changed for the

The reason is that the public does not participate in the process of
attaining results. The mechanisms of public participation in the
decision-making processes have been totally eliminated. And when the
public does not have its participation in the process of attaining
results, it becomes indifferent and is unable to evaluate them.

Therefore, the Public Council should have a primary task of introducing
mechanisms of participation and make the major part of society
participants in the decision-making processes. In this way, the Public
Council will contribute to the formation of civil society. We have even
envisaged that the Public Council will submit an annual report
representing the situation with civil society. Such report may be used
by international organizations as an objective assessment.’

`And to what extent is it advisable for the Public Council to be a body
operating under the President?’

`Although the Public Council is the advisory body of the President, it
should be a counterbalance to the presidential staff, the Government
and the National Assembly. In that way, the Public Council will give
the President the opportunity to have alternative approaches to matters
of public concern.

The Public Council should be a body standing above politics; it should
express public opinion and be independent. The voice of society should
reach the highest tribunals through its channels. The matter does not
Aonly consist in voicing the issues but also contributing to their
solution. This work may be effective only in case the country’s top
leadership is aware of the consultations and responsible for bringing
them to life.

The Public Council will not pass decisions or laws. Neither is the
President of the country obliged to comply with its proposals. The
Public Council may advance different proposals to the President,
specifying the attitudes of different members of the council with
regard to different issues.

It’s quite possible that, guided by political considerations and the
political principles of organizing public life, the President may
approve the proposal advanced by 4 rather than 60 percent of the
representatives of the Public Council. However, he will be aware of all
the opinions existing in the public. And if the President does not
approve any of the proposals of the Public Council in case of solving a
specific kind of problem, that fact will give rise to concerns. The
thing is that the Council and a proposal cannot be overlooked.’

`And will the members of the Public Council work on voluntary bases or
their work will be paid?’

`The coordinating committee and the working group unanimously share the
opinion that the Public Council cannot work on paid bases; a member of
the Public Council cannot carry out paid work. This is a public
activity. Each member of the Pub
lic Council should work with the
personal motivation of keeping up his public reputation and raising it
continuously. He/she cannot have material interests.

If the first staff of the Public Council is formed in the right manner,
the successfulness of this body may be guaranteed. If the existing
enthusiasm ends in disappointment, the consequences will be deep, and
there may be unpredictable political developments. The people have
always had expectations’ however, the situation is different now
because there are all the pre-requisites to see such expectations as
accomplished facts. We mustn’t miss this chance.’