Opposition leaders on Tuesday dismissed Prime Minister Nikol Pashinian’s harsh criticism of Armenian government and law-enforcement agencies, calling it an attempt to mask his failed policies.
Speaking at a cabinet meeting in Yerevan last week, a furious Pashinian charged that “the state governance system” is sabotaging the fight against corruption, economic policies and reforms initiated by him.
“The entire state system is resisting the revolution and I am going to break that resistance,” he declared. He did not name concrete state bodies or officials.
“The problem is not resistance but how a particular reform or idea is communicated,” countered Mane Tandilian, a leader of the opposition Bright Armenia Party (LHK). “And if the government does not succeed in doing that then the problem is with the government.”
“Yes, there have been people [in the government] with different mindsets,” she told RFE/RL’s Armenian service. “But at the end of the day it’s the government and the prime minister that make decisions and give guidance. If he has failed to solve this problem then the government is inept.”
Tandilian said that she encountered resistance to reforms from some mid-level civil servants when she served as labor minister in May-November 2018 in Pashinian’s first cabinet formed following last year’s “Velvet Revolution.” But shed claimed that the incompetence of more senior officials appointed by Pashinian has been a far more serious problem.
Artsvik Minasian, a senior member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) who served as economy minister from May-October 2018, said that Pashinian’s diatribe amounted to “self-criticism.”
“There were and there are very good specialists in that system. He should not offend those people,” Minasian said, accusing the prime minister of seeking to get rid of experienced professionals.
In Minasian’s words, Pashinian’s remarks mean that his structural changes and high-level appointments to the government have been a failure. “In order to rectify these mistakes the prime minister needs to take right steps, rather than resort to staff purges. This was an order of staff purges,” claimed the opposition politician.
Hayk Gevorgian, a senior lawmaker from Armenia’s ruling My Step alliance, defended the prime minister. He also made a case for such purges in the middle and lower echelons of the state bureaucracy, saying that they are now the main source of government corruption in the country.
“The existing system of state governance does not meet our requirements,” Gevorgian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service.