A senior member of Armenia’s second largest parliamentary force led by businessman Gagik Tsarukian questioned on Wednesday the Armenian government’s stated commitment to implementing political reforms envisaged by an upcoming agreement with the European Union.
The draft Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) calls, among other things, for the “strengthening of democracy and of political, economic and institutional stability” in Armenia. It commits Yerevan to implementing major reforms of the country’s flawed judicial and law-enforcement systems.
Naira Zohrabian, a senior lawmaker from the Tsarukian Bloc, said the authorities do not necessarily have the political will to honor these commitments. “My concern is that reforms mandated by many important provisions of the document could slow down or remain on paper altogether,” she told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun.am).
Zohrabian, who chairs the Armenian parliament committee on European integration, argued that the authorities have already enacted various anti-corruption laws which have not had a significant impact on the rule of law.
“Look at the income declarations of our high-ranking officials and compare their de facto lifestyles and assets to their de jure declarations,” she said. “Have any of them been held accountable for filing false income declarations? No.”
Eduard Sharmazanov, a deputy parliament speaker and the spokesman for the ruling Republican Party (HHK), insisted earlier this week that the authorities are serious about implementing the reforms specified by the CEPA. He portrayed the EU’s largely positive assessment of Armenia’s April 2017 parliamentary elections as proof of their commitment to democratic change.
Zohrabian dismissed Sharmazanov’s remarks, saying that she has “very serious reservations” about the freedom and fairness of the elections. She did not elaborate, however.
The Tsarukian Bloc, which claims to be in opposition to President Serzh Sarkisian, did not allege serious fraud in its official reaction to the conduct of the April elections. The bloc finished second in the polls, winning 31 seats in the country’s 105-member parliament.