By Hrant Aleksanian in Stepanakert
The president of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh republic, Arkady Ghanaian, criticized his government in unusually strong terms on Thursday, saying that it has lost touch with the people and is tolerating corruption.
Meeting with a large group of government officials and public figures in Stepanakert, Ghukasian promised a cabinet reshuffle and other “resolute steps” to boost his administration’s standing. He left no indications as to which of the Karabakh ministers will lose their job as a result.
“Government officials are often indifferent to citizens’ problems. There is mistrust towards the authorities,” he said.
Ghukasian went on to attack the NKR’s law-enforcement and judicial bodies. “Judges often hand down wrong verdicts for profit-making considerations,” he said without elaborating.
The harsh criticism came amid what Karabakh official say is an improving economic situation in the Armenian-populated territory. Ghukasian declared that the local economy is on course to expand by a staggering 30 percent this year on the back of growing foreign investment. He also said that the NKR government will have more money at its disposal next year.
More than 75 percent of its expenditures are underwritten by government subsidies received from Armenia. The cash allocation for this year was about 11 billion drams ($22.7 million) and is expected to reach 13.5 billion drams next year.
Ghukasian noted at the same time that many Karabakh Armenians remain mired in poverty and unaffected by the positive change. He urged local business people to do more to help the poor.
The Stepanakert meeting marked a rare public appearance by Ghukasian. He is not known to have visited a single local community since his reelection two years ago. The Karabakh leader publicly admitted that he lacks first-hand information about the state of affairs in the region, promising to meet with ordinary people more often.