A senior representative of the ruling Republican Party urged the United States on Tuesday to provide more economic assistance to Armenia under its Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) program, saying that Yerevan’s human rights record has improved since 2008.
U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch said on Friday that the Armenian government is currently not eligible for further MCA aid because it scores poorly on U.S. indicators of good governance. She said the government should, among other things, hold more democratic elections in order to again qualify for the scheme.
“I don’t fully agree with the ambassador,” Razmik Zohrabian, an HHK deputy chairman, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “But I partly agree that two years ago there were more shortcomings than now.”
“I think that very soon they should consider dropping that veto on the Millennium Challenge Account and provide that assistance to Armenia,” he said.
In particular, Zohrabian argued that the vast majority of opposition members arrested following the February 2008 presidential election have already been released from prison. He said he is confident that the several oppositionists remaining in jail will also be set free soon.
“I think they too will be let go,” he said. “There is no [government] intention to keep some individuals in jail.”
“As for other issues -- human rights, dialogue with the opposition -- that process is also more visible,” Zohrabian added, arguing that the authorities allowed the main opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) to hold rallies in Yerevan’s Liberty Square recently.
Zohrabian further claimed that Armenian elections have not been as flawed those held in countries like Kazakhstan, whose longtime President Nursultan Nazarbayev has again been controversially reelected with more than 90 percent of the vote. “In our country the president did not get more than 54 percent of the vote,” he said.