The three political parties represented in Armenia’s government denied on Monday aggressively pushing, through their ministers, for the appointment of new civil servants affiliated with them.
Manvel Badalian, chairman of the State Council on Civil Service, insisted, however, that they are keen to place their members and supporters in various government agencies in violation of an Armenian law adopted in 2002.
Badalian first raised the issue at a meeting of Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian’s cabinet last week. He accused the Republican, Prosperous Armenia and Orinats Yerkir parties of acting like “employment centers” for their loyalists.
Speaking at a news conference on Monday, Badalian clarified that his claims apply to all partisan ministers “without exception.” “I note with disappointment that each of them considers recruiting members of their own parties a priority,” he said. “Not so much at their own initiative as at the instructions of their party leaders.”
“Fortunately, there are cases where representatives of those parties are skilled specialists who pass the selection process without problems,” added the official.
But representatives of all three parties denied any involvement in the alleged practice. “We have proved our commitment to political solidarity and broad-based cooperation and have never been obsessed with partisanship,” Eduard Sharmazanov, a spokesman for President Serzh Sarkisian’s Republican Party (HHK) told RFE/RL.
“But we also think that there are very good cadres within the Republican Party that have served and will serve the Republic of Armenia well,” he said.
Vartan Bostanjian, a senior lawmaker from the Prosperous Armenia (BHK) party, similarly assured journalists that none of its three ministers has lobbied for patronage appointments in the civil service. He said the BHK may have only “put in a good word” for competent individuals who are not necessarily affiliated with it.
“The Orinats Yerkir Party has never given precedence to such practices,” Susanna Abrahamian, a party spokeswoman, told RFE/RL. “But people may work in various agencies and have party affiliations. That is not forbidden by the law.”
The law in question mandates the selection of ministry personnel and other civil servants on a solely competitive basis taking into account their professional qualifications, rather than political views or affiliations. The State Council on Civil Service, formed by the president of the republic, is tasked with holding job contests, evaluating civil servants’ performance and protecting them against arbitrary dismissal.