Jury Still Out On Armenian President’s First 100 Days


Aravot July 19 2008 Armenia

"The president is a human being, too"

In a conversation with Aravot, while replying to our request –
to enumerate a few personal qualities of President Serzh Sargsyan,
a member of the board of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation –
Dashnaktsutyun and the leader of the Dashnaktsutyun [parliamentary]
faction, Vahan Hovhannesyan said: "He is a kind person, devoted to
friends, frank, speaking the folk language, and he has an honour. But,
generally, I do not believe that discussing the personal qualities of
presidents is correct; he is first of all a president, and then only
a human being." While responding to our comment that the president is
also a human being, Hovhannesyan said: "It is impossible to become a
president by being a human being, but after one becomes, nevertheless,
he is first a president, and then only a human being."

What kind of president is Serzh Sargsyan?Political forces evaluate
his 100 days

Opinions vary – the radical opposition believes that he is not
a president, another layer of society is sure that he is a good
president, others still do not understand anything about what happened
and are in unclear expectations; the fourth [as given] ones believe
that if he strives a lot – he will make a good president; the fifth
ones believe that nothing will succeed no matter how much effort he
makes. Today many people, both from the government and opposition
camps, accept in separate and private meetings that judging by
some of Serzh Sargsyan’s personal qualities he is on the route to
becoming a good president, but the post-election developments, the 1
March [unrest in Yerevan] detainees, the casualties and the political
jealousy of some of his friends hinder him a lot. Very big efforts and
political will are necessary to overcome all this and move forward. The
predominant opinion is that after he was sworn in on 9 April, the
president’s first step should have been to make a political decision
and release prisoners. The leader of the People’s Party of Armenia,
Stepan Demirchyan, is of the same opinion. While assessing, at our
request, the president’s 100 days in office, he said: "The country
is still in a political, social, economic, and moral-psychological
crisis after 100 days and no positive trends are noticed. A total of
100 days are, of course, not a big term, but there are steps which
were possible and should have been taken, first of all – releasing
political prisoners, ensuring an impartial investigation into the 1
March events, and holding those actually guilty accountable."

Vahan Hovhannesyan, member of the board of the Armenian Revolutionary
Federation – Dashnaktsutyun and leader of the Dashnaktsutyun faction,
said when describing President Serzh Sargsyan that he [Sargsyan] had
expressed resoluteness to carry out positive reforms. "Of course,
100 days are not enough, and it may seem to some people that the
reforms which have been carried out are still pretentious ones; this is
understandable, as reforms in Armenia require time. I believe that we
should expect the results by the end of the year." While answering our
questions about what mistakes the president made in the past 100 days,
Mr Hovhannesyan said: "It is difficult to note prominent mistakes, at
least in this period. Maybe, the reaction to Turkey’s suggestion to
establish the [joint Armenian-Turkish commission to study events of
1915] commission is disputable, but this is, I believe, an editorial
fault, and clarifications were made in the end, including those by
the foreign minister, which explained that the talk is about an option
once offered to [former President] Robert Kocharyan."

Hovhannesyan said that we had no right to say about some of the
currently implemented reforms that those are an imitation, as they
are already yielding actual results in the business, customs and
tax fields. Will those be long-lasting ones? – "The answer to this
question will be given only when these changes become irreversible. I
believe that time has not come yet, but it is round the corner."

The secretary of the Prosperous Armenia party, Aram Safaryan, said
Serzh Sargsyan is "a very bold, very hard-working person who listens
to others’ opinions and adheres to decisions made by himself".

Safaryan also said: "Serzh Sargsyan’s presidency coincided with 1
March [post-election unrest in Yerevan, clashes between security
forces and protesters resulting in 10 dead] and its consequences. I
want to emphasize that there was an accumulated lack of democracy in
our society from the previous 17 years and this lack had to express
itself in some way; I believe that the processes which have been
carried out in Armenia within the last three months under the auspices
of Europe are quite profound. He got power at a very difficult time,
and I believe that the large-scale reforms that he has started will
be accomplished by the end of the year. [passage omitted]."