Opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosian on Wednesday acknowledged Prime Minister Karen Karapetian’s “honest” motives but said he should take two concrete measures against government corruption in Armenia.
“While having no doubts that Karen Karapetian assumed the post of prime minister with an honest drive to improve the economic situation in the country, I think that he should first of all bear in mind the following undeniable realities,” Ter-Petrosian said in his latest written comments posted on Ilur.am.
The top leader of the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) described corruption as the root cause of Armenia’s political and economic problems. He said Karapetian’s newly formed cabinet should therefore tackle it in earnest by stripping all government agencies of their extra-budgetary funds and ratifying a United Nations convention against corruption and illegal enrichment of officials in particular.
“If these two provisions are not included in the government’s policy program, then it will make no sense to hope for an improved economic situation in Armenia, and the new government will meet the fate of the two previous ones,” claimed Ter-Petrosian.
“Until corruption in Armenia in rooted out, no prime minister, no matter how capable, will achieve any success and [every prime minister] will quickly become yet another scapegoat,” he said.
Karapetian’s cabinet approved its plan of actions late on Tuesday. The 33-page document promises a tougher fight against corruption, including through criminal liability for “illegal enrichment” of state officials.
Ter-Petrosian reacted to the program one week after accusing the Armenian authorities of seeking to “perpetuate” their rule and putting Armenia on the brink of an “economic disaster.” He said President Serzh Sarkisian’s administration is engaged in a “theatrical” imitation of reforms. Sarkisian’s political allies dismissed those claims.
Ter-Petrosian, who served as Armenia’s first president from 1991-1998, has for years been a bitter critic of Sarkisian.But shortly after a sharp escalation of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in April, he said that opposition forces should put aside their differences with the government in the face of the increased military threat from Azerbaijan. The two men met in Ter-Petrosian’s private residence at the time.
The HAK spoke out against attempts to overthrow the government through armed revolt during Armenian security forces’ two-week standoff with radical opposition gunmen that seized a Yerevan police station in July to demand Sarkisian’s resignation. Ter-Petrosian’s party also played a key role in the Sarkisian administration’s recent landmark agreement with the opposition on the proper conduct of parliamentary elections slated for April 2017.