By Emil Danielyan
Ensuring Armenia’s continued economic growth is more important than improving its government’s human rights record, Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian indicated in a newspaper interview published on Monday.
"It is hard to talk about democratic and human rights when you need to solve the social and economic needs of the population," Sarkisian told the Financial Times. "We would not like to be a state stuck in our transition."
Sarkisian was interviewed by the paper during a visit to Brussels last week that coincided with his appointment as prime minister. He was cited as saying that he will put economic development ahead of human rights improvements.
Still, the new Armenian premier insisted that Yerevan will do its best to ensure the freedom and fairness of next month’s parliamentary elections in line with promises given to the West. "We have made commitments to different programmes and we think compliance is in our interest,” he said. “We want to become part of the European family."
The Armenian opposition claims that the former defense minister is one of the main architects of reported fraud that marred the previous parliamentary and presidential elections held in the country. Opposition leaders dismiss government pledges to ensure the proper conduct of the May 12 vote.