A leading anti-graft organization’s representative has called on Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian to disclose the classified information from former President Serzh Sarkisian’s times that he claims described Armenia as an “institutionally paralyzed” state.
In a Facebook video on Sunday Pashinian said his short vacation gave him more time to peruse a “secret” government document drawn up in 2014 that he claimed revealed “that institutionally our state is totally failed.”
Pashinian said the document that was on his table contained such sensitive information that he could not even disclose its title.
“The significance of this secret document which was written during the last years of the Sarkisian government and is now on my table is that it gives a complete picture of the state of our country or in what state it was and continues to be, because the problems referred to in it naturally could not solved within just a year. The conclusion drawn from this paper is that, in essence, during the  revolution, before and in some sense after it our country has been institutionally paralyzed. In fact, this is a document that says that in our country state institutions are paralyzed and institutionally our state is totally failed. The authors of this document must have shown some great courage in making such evaluations,” Pashinian said, noting that studying this document helps him better understand what is happening in Armenia and what issues need to be addressed in the country.
The prime minister explained that in Armenia today “there are no institutions that would solve various problems that people face.” As an example, he cited multiple difficulties arising in such major projects as road construction.
“Reading this document, I once again made sure that in Armenia, in fact, the system of governance was based on corruption, and when you remove corruption, it turns out that there is no system of governance underneath. This is the biggest problem. This is the kind of challenge our government is facing. In fact, we have to create institutions in Armenia from scratch to solve the problems that our country faces,” Pashinian said, stressing that by institutions he also meant the judicial system and the system of state purchases.
“There are institutions in our country that at first glance seem to be fully operational, but when you go deep, you realize that under the decorative curtain we, in fact, have a state of institutional paralysis or partial paralysis. We need strong nerves to address this situation in the sense that we should not be running in panic after all possible problems, but should focus on tactical and strategic priorities, and without paying any attention to emotional backgrounds address these problems one after another,” the premier concluded.
Talking to RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am) on Monday deputy director of the Transparency International Anti-Corruption Center Sona Ayvazian suggested that information of that kind merits disclosure in the interest of the public.
“It is not right to provide only bits of information and leave it to the public to make conclusions and form opinions,” she said.
Ayvazian said that a number of other similar statements made by Pashinian in the past were not followed up on and elicited no response from law-enforcement agencies.
“No steps follow such statements. At least, the public is not aware of such steps. I think in this case it is the same. We, of course, do not know what document it is… and how far it is possible for the law-enforcement bodies to take steps based on it. But I think it should be followed by corresponding reports to law-enforcement bodies. I think it would be even correct if the document becomes available for the public, as it talks about public interest,” Transparency International’s representative said.
Meanwhile, representatives of Sarkisian’s former ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) challenged the veracity of Pashinian’s claims, challenging him to publish the document.
Armen Ashotian, a former HHK lawmaker and education minister in the Sarkisian government, contended in a Facebook post that Pashinian is seeking an excuse for his government’s failures.
“Why this whole fake mysteriousness? Just publish the title of the ‘report’ and reveal the names of its authors,” he wrote.
Vladimir Karapetian, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Pashinian, told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service (Azatutyun.am) later on Monday that the matter concerns classified information that is not subject for publication by law.