Armenian Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian has advocated further structural changes in his Cabinet, saying that the Ministry of the Interior that was reorganized into the National Police Force in 2002 will be reestablished.
Earlier this week the Armenian government already endorsed a number of readjustments in its current structure, asking the parliament to approve the merger of the ministries of emergency situations and local government and the establishment of a new ministry to be tasked with advancing economic integration and reforms stemming from Armenia’s international commitments, including its planned membership in the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) beginning next year.
Talking to reporters while visiting the southern resort town of Jermuk on Friday, Premier Abrahamian defended a “gradual optimization” of the government system.
“Nineteen ministries is too many for Armenia,” the official Armenpress news agency quoted him as saying. “Steps will be taken to reunite [some of the ministries]. In the future we will turn the [merged] ministries of emergency situations and the ministry of local government into the Ministry of Internal Affairs as it is the case in many European countries. Numerous services will be included in that ministry.”
Opposition groups have already criticized the government over its planned readjustments.
Talking to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am) on Thursday, Mikayel Melkumian, of the Prosperous Armenia Party, challenged the wisdom of the decision to set up a new ministry in charge of international economic integration. “What is the big deal about it that we cannot entrust this integration to the already existing ministry of economy?” he queried sarcastically, implying that the creation of the new ministry is potentially another waste of taxpayer money.
Opposition Heritage party lawmaker Zaruhi Postanjian, meanwhile, highlighted the fact that next year’s draft budget envisages no separate funding for the establishment of the new ministry connected with membership in the EEU. She claimed it showed that the authorities themselves had hoped to avoid accession to the trade bloc before they were “forced” to sign the deal last month.
But Vahram Baghdasarian, the leader of the ruling Republican Party’s parliamentary faction, defended the plans on the establishment of the new ministry, saying that it is important for facilitating interaction with the EEU, which opens up a market of 170 million people for Armenia. He also said that the latest readjustments will not require additional funding as everything will be done with the resources that are already available under the current funding.