Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian lashed out Armenian government and law-enforcement agencies on Thursday, saying that they are sabotaging the fight against corruption, economic policies and reforms initiated by him.
“As the prime minister of Armenia, I want to say frankly that all of the successes and gains that we have now have been achieved … in spite of the state governance system,” Pashinian charged during a weekly cabinet meeting in Yerevan. “Don’t take offense, but the fight against corruption is also taking place in spite of the state governance system.”
“Let us note that the entire state system is resisting the revolution and I am going to break that resistance,” he added. “There is no other option because the people of Armenia voted for our political force and me personally so that changes happen in this country.”
The angry outburst followed a tense verbal exchange between Finance Minister Atom Janjughazian and the head of the State Revenue Committee (SRC), Davit Ananian. Janjughazian categorically objected to a five-year SRC action plan and, in particular, continued construction of a new customs terminal near Gyumri which requires 6.2 billion drams ($13 million) in additional government funding.
While acknowledging the validity of some of Janjughazian’s arguments, Pashinian effectively sided with Ananian. He noted that the government decided at his initiative earlier this year to relocate to Gyumri most SRC facilities processing car imports to Armenia. He reiterated his view that this will stimulate economic activity in the country’s second largest city that has long been suffering from high unemployment.
Pashinian did not name concrete state bodies or officials in his ensuing diatribe. He complained that he has trouble receiving detailed economic information from relevant government agencies and has to constantly “push” the state bureaucracy to address various issues.
Pashinian also claimed that law-enforcement authorities are too slow in investigating corruption cases. “You have to ask the entire law-enforcement system from time to time, ‘What happened? What happened?’” he said.