By Philippe Raffi Kalfayan
Special to the Mirror-Spectator
I have never described the events of April-May 2018 as a “revolution” for two reasons. The first is that Serzh Sargsyan gave up power with reason and wisdom, making the transmission of power bloodless. Secondly, a real revolution, in the political sense, would have sought a fundamental change to the foundations of the Republic, its Constitution and the entire political system. This was not the case; on the contrary, the new team wore the costume of the previous one and globally pursued the policies of the previous governments with one major exception, an intensified fight against corruption. Popular support for the incumbent Prime minister is not an excuse for it. If the Constitution no longer meets the expectations of the country, then a constitutional reform must be launched. Until then, it must be respected.
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, on September 26, spoke before the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York, where he blamed all the country’s shortcomings on the old corrupt elites. Pretending that the financial capabilities of those elites gives them power in the media and elsewhere yet pursuing and accepting money from the same groups for the foundation led by his wife, Anna Hakobyan, is not very consistent. Nor is declaring that the promotion of sustainable development and human rights is an inclusive process while harassing all supporters of the Kocharyan and Sargsyan governments. While the prime minister built his entire campaign against the excessive institutional powers of his predecessor, not only did he not reform them but he exaggerated them by eliminating five ministries, and strengthening his personal powers.
A number can eloquently illustrate this concentration of power: The Prime Minister of Armenia, with 2.5 million inhabitants, now has more than 720 employees. By comparison, the Prime Minister of France, with 67 million inhabitants, counts 1,900 employees.
What motivates this policy? Is it a lack of trust in the people surrounding him? Is that the conviction he is the only one who can lead the transformation? Is it his desire not to share the power, nor to delegate it? Or fear of seeing former Republican leaders back at the helm of the country? It is probably a combination of all these factors. The stakes are such that it is impossible for a single man to carry out a strategic reflection and coherent action, especially when his team is made up of courtiers without critical approach or experience. It is amusing to see a 28-year-old Minister of Justice, just out of school, say at the time of his appointment that he already has significant experience. It is to be feared that in this field, as in others, young ministers will be reduced to copying and pasting inappropriate projects, models or proposals from international institutions.