“Real changes are becoming fuzzy”

The heading of this monologue is part of a quote attributed to the president of Armenia Serj Sargsyan. I read it in News.am that had quoted it from another Armenian news paper Zhamanak. Here is the quote that was supposedly expressed by the president within “narrow circle”. It reads. “He complained that Karen Karapetyan is in the new post [of PM] for the third month already, but hopes and expectations for real change are becoming more fuzzy; instead of the positive steps, solely the causes of the failures and ill success are spoken about in the form of the speeches”.

I do not know how credible the quote is (“narrow circle” does not make it necessarily credible), but there is some truth to the statement. The new Prime Minster (PM) has been in office since September 13  2016 although that is hardly enough time to pass judgement on his accomplishment but by now some clear and specific policies were in order.

So far he has been more open minded, and had more interviews with local and foreign news media outlets and more press conferences than his predecessors. Yes he talked mostly about the many problems that the country is facing including corruption, business monopolies, ineffective bureaucracy, customs administrations, etc. but failed to come up with new proposals on how to overcome them and thus the credibility of real changes are becoming “more fuzzy”.

Being more of a businessman than a politician, his answers are direct and to the point void of political rhetoric. Answering a question about the increase of the foreign investments in the country and job creation he said due to the upcoming parliamentary elections in April 2017, he does not expect any major investments before then.

A good excuse not to announce any major decisions prior to the start of the official election campaign. This will give him enough time to continue his visits to the regions (again so far he seems to have done more than his predecessors), while concentrating more on developing an electoral platform with specific proposals to present to the electorate during the election campaign. Strategically speaking, not a bad situation to be in.

During a visit to Gyumry, he said there is the potential to make Gyumry the capital city of tourism in Armenia and he is right. Gyumry has been more a tourist destination specially for Russian intellectuals and aristocracy in the past. (Prior to the Soviet rule Gyumry was called Alexandrabol and during the soviet rule was called Leninagan.  Even now Russia has one of its largest “vacationing” army base in Gyumry close to Turkish and Georgian borders).

Gyumry is a beautiful city with reach history but unfortunately hardly a tourist destination even for Armenians. Since Yerevan is “overcrowded” with tourists, maybe moving the Ministry of Tourism or some of its relevant departments from Yerevan to Gyumry might help and even create few desperately needed local jobs as well.

Recently answering a question about his priorities to kick start some of the reforms, he said they all are priorities, and just to name few he surprisingly started with the Agriculture and the Mining Industry. Wise choices indeed. Agriculture and Mining are the two major natural resources that Armenia has and both in need of major improvements.

If someone follows the Armenian news media he will hardly see any news on rural developments or on mining industry. Here too there is great need for the mining industry to become more environmentally friendly not only to reduce the pollution but specially to help improve the health of the residents who live in these areas. Again, maybe moving some relevant departments of the Ministries of Agriculture and Mining in different parts of rural areas close to where the people live and work will be a good start.

Answering another question about where the PM will like to see the country in twenty years time, he said “Independent, Secure, Just and Intellectual” It is hard to disagree and wish the PM all the success to kick start the process to help accomplish this far reaching and positive vision for the country.

To help Armenia become more “Independent” maybe the PM could start the process to make Armenia economically more self sufficient and less dependent on others, specially on Russia. Needless to say Armenia will be more “Secure” with a corruption free law enforcement system, and have the best trained army force that includes also female solders. The key to have a “Just” society is to have a corruption free Justice system independent from any political interference, and affordable by all citizens. Needless to say these are major reforms that could  be accomplished only with deeds and not with words and specially not by being “fuzzy” about them.

As for making Armenia more Intellectual, the PM has more challenges to overcome. There seems to be a shortage of intellectuals that are active in the governing Republican Party ranks that the PM is a new member of, and also in the opposition Party ranks as well. A major educational reforms based on civic engagement and ethical values might be a good start.

It is long overdue that the intellectuals and not intellectually challenged Party “apparatchiks” Ընկեր բան-չունիներ to “step up on the plate” so to speak, be active participants, and help Armenia’ politics be concentrated on the socioeconomic well being of the PEOPLE living in Armenia. PEOPLE are Armenia and they are the ones that need to be “Independent”, Secure”, “Just” ,and “intellectual”,  both with words and deeds. Բանիւ եւ գործով.

Zohrab Bebo Sarkissian

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