Eduard Sharmazanov insisted that there are no prerequisites for a similar “social revolt” in the country because of political and other “reforms” implemented by the Armenian government.
The dramatic scenes in Cairo and elsewhere in the Arab world have reminded Armenians of deadly unrest that followed Armenia’s disputed presidential election of February 2008. Ten people were killed at the time in vicious clashes between security forces and opposition protesters demanding a re-run of what they saw as a rigged vote. The authorities ordered troops into the capital Yerevan to quell the protests.
The overthrow of Tunisia’s longtime president and a similar threat hanging over his Egyptian counterpart has left some pundits wondering whether the administration of President Serzh Sarkisian could also face similar protests soon.
“The situations in Egypt and Armenia are totally different,” said Sharmazanov. “In Egypt, Hosni Mubarak has been in power for over 30 years, and I think the problem there is not so much socioeconomic as it is related to value systems and geopolitical developments.”
“Secondly, there are no grounds for a social revolt in Armenia,” he told a news conference. “Of course, there is discontent. But which country that has gone through the global financial crisis lacks such discontent?”
Sharmazanov, who is also the secretary of the HHK’s parliamentary faction, claimed that the Sarkisian administration is committed to improving governance, combating corruption and implementing other important “reforms.” “Revolts happen in those countries where the authorities are stagnant and lack the power and political will to carry out reforms,” he said. “We, unlike other forces, are going for political changes, reforms.”
The claims will be brushed aside by the opposition and, in particular, the Armenian National Congress (HAK), whose top leader, Levon Ter-Petrosian led the 2008 protests. Ter-Petrosian and other HAK representatives say government repression, corruption and a culture of electoral fraud are the vital pillars of Armenia’s existing political system that allows Sarkisian and the HHK to stay in power.
Despite being highly critical of the Armenian government, Ter-Petrosian’s alliance has been careful to avoid a renewed standoff with them. The HAK leadership last year criticized a bloody popular uprising in Kyrgyzstan, while drawing parallels between the Central Asian state’s deposed president and the authorities in Yerevan.