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First Partisan Vice-Ministers Appointed


By Atom Markarian
Prime Minister Andranik Markarian appointed two representatives of his junior coalition partners, the Orinats Yerkir and Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) parties, to deputy ministerial posts on Wednesday, in a first move resulting from their recent power-sharing agreement.

Karlen Gevorgian of Dashnaktsutyun and Orinats Yerkir’s Artak Davtian were named ministers of urban development and energy respectively. Gevorgian’s boss represents Orinats Yerkir, while Davtian will be subordinated to a member of Markarian’s Republican Party (HHK).

More such appointments are expected in the coming days. They are the result of an agreement to divide more senior government posts reached by the leaders of the three governing parties last month. The deal was initiated by Dashnaktsutyun and Orinats Yerkir which argued that they need greater representation in the executive to be able to shoulder responsibility for government policies. The Republicans, who control more ministries, initially resisted their demands but backed down under apparent pressure from President Robert Kocharian.

The power-sharing deal will reportedly give Orinats Yerkir and Dashnaktsutyun six and five vice-ministerial jobs respectively. Each of them also obtained on Tuesday two posts of deputy regional governor as part of the deal. The HHK is also expected to benefit from it by having nine more vice-ministers.

Sources told RFE/RL earlier that the new coalition arrangement will require the creation of more vice-ministerial and vice-gubernatorial slots. But government officials say that will not place an additional burden on the state budget. Deputy Minister of Finance and Economy Pavel Safarian told reporters this week that some 600 jobs in the state bureaucracy will be slashed this year and another 290 positions in 2004.

Still, the government’s net expenditures on its staff are due to increase from this year’s 21 billion drams to almost 25 billion drams ($44 million) next year. Most of the money will be used for paying government employees’ growing salaries.
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