Ruling Parties Deny Civil Service Patronage


Ruben Meloyan

Armenia — Manvel Badalian, chairman of the State Council on Civil
Service at a news conference

The three political parties represented in Armenia’s government
denied on Monday aggressively pushing, through their ministers,
for the appointment of new civil servants affiliated with them.

Manvel Badalian, chairman of the State Council on Civil Service,
insisted, however, that they are keen to place their members and
supporters in various government agencies in violation of an Armenian
law adopted in 2002.

Badalian first raised the issue at a meeting of Prime Minister Tigran
Sarkisian’s cabinet last week. He accused the Republican, Prosperous
Armenia and Orinats Yerkir parties of acting like "employment centers"
for their loyalists.

Speaking at a news conference on Monday, Badalian clarified that his
claims apply to all partisan ministers "without exception." "I note
with disappointment that each of them considers recruiting members
of their own parties a priority," he said. "Not so much at their own
initiative as at the instructions of their party leaders."

"Fortunately, there are cases where representatives of those parties
are skilled specialists who pass the selection process without
problems," added the official.

But representatives of all three parties denied any involvement in
the alleged practice. "We have proved our commitment to political
solidarity and broad-based cooperation and have never been obsessed
with partisanship," Eduard Sharmazanov, a spokesman for President
Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK) told RFE/RL.

"But we also think that there are very good cadres within the
Republican Party that have served and will serve the Republic of
Armenia well," he said.

Vartan Bostanjian, a senior lawmaker from the Prosperous Armenia (BHK)
party, similarly assured journalists that none of its three ministers
has lobbied for patronage appointments in the civil service. He said
the BHK may have only "put in a good word" for competent individuals
who are not necessarily affiliated with it.

"The Orinats Yerkir Party has never given precedence to such
practices," Susanna Abrahamian, a party spokeswoman, told RFE/RL. "But
people may work in various agencies and have party affiliations. That
is not forbidden by the law."

The law in question mandates the selection of ministry personnel
and other civil servants on a solely competitive basis taking into
account their professional qualifications, rather than political
views or affiliations. The State Council on Civil Service, formed by
the president of the republic, is tasked with holding job contests,
evaluating civil servants’ performance and protecting them against
arbitrary dismissal.

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