Armenian lawmakers on Wednesday passed in the first reading a government-drafted bill that allows the military to commandeer and use motor vehicles for “defense purposes” in both peace and war times.
The law “On the use of means of transportation for defense purposes” calls for registration of vehicles owned by local governments, corporate bodies and organizations, private entrepreneurs and individuals that could officially be taken possession of upon notice from a local military enlistment office and used by the military in “ensuring defenses” as part of peace- and war-time mobilizations.
Only vehicles belonging to organizations and local government bodies are subject to the application of the law during major war games and training assemblies in peacetime, while vehicles owned by individual businessmen and ordinary citizens can be “recruited” only in wartime.
Head of the parliamentary committee on defense, national security and internal affairs Hrair Karapetian explained to RFE/RL that privately owned high-powered vehicles, such as SUVs, Hummers and others, will be commandeered when it is required only during wartime.
“The state will pay a compensation to those persons whose vehicles have been used for military purpose,” added Karapetian.
Victor Dallakian, a member of parliament not affiliated with any faction or group, urged the government to secure the army with its own vehicles at least for peacetime instead of relying on “other organizations” during military exercises.
Dallakian described this manner of work as “beggary”.
“One of the major conditions is to make Armenia’s oligarchy work in the legal plain so that they pay taxes and provide the army with these means,” said Dallakian.
Also, one of the amendments in the government-drafted package approved on Wednesday obliges diplomatic representations of Armenia abroad to assist Armenia’s conscription-based army by organizing the return of draft-dodgers.
Karapetian dismissed criticism that this provision is tantamount to prosecution of people of call-up age abroad.
The head of the parliamentary committee would not be drawn on the timing of the passage of the law that coincides with major geopolitical shifts in the volatile South Caucasus region.
“The processes that have so far been outside the law from now on should be regulated by law,” said Karapetian.