Armenia should democratize its political system and carry out other reforms if it wants to avoid more upheavals in the future, the president of the European Parliament, Jerzy Buzek, said on Thursday, ending a two-day visit to Yerevan.
“We have the experience of North Africa,” he told RFE/RL’s Armenian service in an interview. “There was stability but for the short term. But there was no democracy and that is why there could have been no long-term stability there.”
“I think the Armenian authorities and opposition understand this,” he said, stressing the need to “build strong democratic institutions and strong democratic procedures.”
Buzek arrived in Yerevan on Wednesday on the second leg of a tour of the three South Caucasus states. He met with President Serzh Sarkisian, parliament speaker Hovik Abrahamian and leaders of the country’s main political groups. The political situation in Armenia was high on the agenda of these meetings.
Buzek said recent political development in the country bode well for what he described as “reconciliation” between the Armenian government and its political opponents, notably the Armenian National Congress (HAK) led by Levon Ter-Petrosian.
“This is a very good beginning for reconciliation,” he said of the Sarkisian administration’s recent overtures to the HAK.
According to the HAK, Buzek and Ter-Petrosian discussed “the possibility of launching dialogue between the authorities and the opposition” at their meeting held late on Wednesday. A statement issued by the opposition alliance gave no details of that discussion.
Buzek asserted that Sarkisian paved the way for such dialogue also with a “very promising” speech last December in which the Armenian president pledged to turn Armenia into a “European-style democracy.”
“We do not know how the implementation of the [government’s reform] proposals will look like in the future,” said Buzek. “But those promises are quite encouraging in themselves, and we can only expect further developments.”