PM Sargsyan to make ministers’ tasks more specific

First day at work for the newly appointed PM Tigran Sargsyan was marked by speculations from various political forces, as to how suitable this new appointment is – considering the complicated situation in the country.

PM Tigran Sargsyan is not a member of any party at the moment, although he came into politics on a Pan-Armenian Movement (HHSh) ticket, and then was a member of National Democratic Party (AZHK).

Heritage’s Stepan Safaryan remarked today, that Prime Minister might lack the power, needed to effectively carry out his duties, while various members of the 4 sided ruling coalition parties said, that T. Sargsyan’s political neutrality might be what is needed at this point, to bridge the gap between the authorities and the opposition.

It should not be forgotten, however, that the new Prime Minister is also widely considered as ex-President Kocharyan’s man and this appointment is seen as a way for Kocharyan to retain his influence over the political scene in the country – hence it remains to be seen, just how weak or strong Tigran Sargsyan is, especially as he might try to build a power platform leaning on the large number of Kocharyan’s supporters and affiliates at all levels of government and the political spectrum, including at least two ruling political parties: the ARF and Prosperous Armenia, the State Security Service, etc.

At any rate, the new PM hasn’t had time to do anything yet – so its quite early to judge what he will or will not do. Asked by a Radio Liberty correspondent at the Banking Fair that took place at Armenian Marriott hotel yesterday, of what his plans are, and will he be the ‘strict’ manager, as he was at the Central Bank, on this new post, Tigran Sargsyan only remarked, that he plans to clearly define the responsibilities and scope of work for all ministers and strictly demand, that all the indicators are met. This is already an encouraging plan – combined with the obligations Armenia has assumed under the Millenium Challanges indicators and European Neighborhood Action plan, a technocratic non-political Prime-Minister, who has a good record of working effectively with international agencies, and who gauges the work of ministries with highly specific requirements for tasks to be done, might be exactly what we need to finally establish an efficient and technocratic government structure.

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35 thoughts on “PM Sargsyan to make ministers’ tasks more specific

  1. What Armenia needs is a PM with a vision for the country not an “efficient and technocratic government structure”. All this smacks of the “politics of accomodation and conformity” not bold new ideas and approaches. Just a more efficient status-quo!!!!

  2. It will be indeed difficult for Tigran S. to manage the 4-sided ruling coalition. However, I think this coalition has more potential to stay united and implement reforms than the option of 20-something party coalition supporting Levon.

    I wonder how Levon would have lead the country with a coalition composed of the Armenian Pan-National Movement, the Conservative Party, the Social-Democratic Hnchak Party, the Marxist Party of Armenia, the Christian-Democratic Revival Party, the Green Party, etc. How could such a jumble-mumble group present a credible government program and work together?

  3. Azadakan, with all due respect, the “20 party coalition” supporting Levon may not include many more than 20 people. OK I am exaggerating, but you get the point.

  4. AH,
    As a regular reader of various blogs, I usually appreciate your comments.
    Mher,
    In presidential systems, theoretically speaking, the Prime Minister is not supposed to apply his own vision, rather that of the President and/or the majority at the Parliament.
    In this specific case, as the Observer rightly lays out, the PM will have to deal with the 4-sided coalition as well as respect the European Neighborhood Agreement. (The Millennium Challenge does not legally bind the Armenian government and as Kocharyan indicated once may be scraped if the U.S. continues to use it as a pressure tactic).

  5. Tigran S.’s problem is that he is the illegitimate prime minister of an illegitimate president. All his expertise, geghciutyun or past action do not matter.

    He is a tarnished PM and he always will be no matter what. A normal person would not have accepted that job but I guess he is part of the avazakapetutyun so it’s not surprising.

  6. … so we should take them all and burn?

    You know at this point in time we couldn’t have a legitimate president. Had Levon won, he would still be an illegitimate president. There are many polls indicating that many disagreed with him and many only went to his rallies to protest against the authorities and not support him. The situation is such that we have no option but to do with an illegitimate president.

    It isn’t Tigran’s problem that the president was elected controversially. It is the president’s problem.

  7. And to second Grigor’s point, let’s not forget that these elections (at least according to international observers) were the best in 17 years. Illegitimacy is all relative. And given the fact that Republicans + Prosperous Arm + Orinats Y + ARF = coalition, we can be fairly confident that despite the irregularities in the election, this coalition represents a vast majority of the electorate.

    Given that fact, how illegitimate is this government? All things considered, it is quite an accurate reflection of our reality.

  8. Now we are to accomodate ourselves to the fact that the elections were perhaps illegitimate to various degrees? Smaller or greater than in the past? How can you say that those people who voted for ARF and Orinats now support their parttys after being coopted into the status quo???

    The PM could accomplish quite a lot in terms of his vision as to how efficiently and legally the govt apparatus needs to operate. After all theoretically the levers of the state would be under his supervision….

  9. ARF and OE supporters are probably not that surprised. And if they are, there is a system (their party) within which to voice their demands. This is party-politics, a good thing. Plus I disagree with your use of the word co-opted. Maybe some would be upset had they stayed out of the coalition (and thus relinquished a chance to make a difference from within). Some will undoubtedly be upset at the compromise. This is politics, and a good step in the right direction for party (ie issue-driven) maturation in Armenia.

  10. Oh, I think they are quite surprised and disappointed!!!!!And don’t remember the two parties holding a popular referendum on whether to join the coalition or not…..How else can you describe the move of these two parties but bein “co-opted”. The regime needed to show that it was taking steps to enlargen its base of support and they held out the proverbial carrot and these two “conformist” parties took the bait. Really, can anyone possibly label these two parties who have been jumping in and out of government like a jack-rabbit in heat as anything more than opportunists???

  11. I guess here we diagree. Both have been part of the govenment as coalition members. Both have had and will hav ministerial portfolios. Both will have a chance to influence domestic and foreign policy. If this is co-opting, then many would love to be cop-opted. It is called being part of the process. Referendums are not held for every decision a party makes.

    As I said, I imagine many of the party faithful may not like it, much in the same way many within Heritage were dead-set against supporting Levon Ter-Petrosyan…so, Mher, was Raffi Hovannisian co-opted?

    While I disagree with his party’s decision, I wouldn’t call it co-opted. They made a political decision, as did Lady Hakob, Jahangiryan, and others.

  12. Sure, you’d love to be co-opted if you have no scruples or principles standing in the way. Anyway…I hold no hope that this time around these 2 parties will do anything different than before….

  13. Good point, Mher – so tell me, who in the political sphere has the scruples and/or principles?

  14. Gandhi, Dali Lama, Stepan Shahumyan, Monte Melkonian, Mandela…..Oh, yes most of the ARF stalwarts who blindly follow anyhting their leaders tell them to. Now that’s a principled approach to the issues.

  15. Well, ok, I see your point. Turning to the Armenian reality, you will have a hard time finding men such as Gandhi or Monte Melkonian among those in the Armenian political arena…whcih begs a question to us all: What are we doing to cultivate leaders? Are we celebrating the Monte’s in our midst or paying more attention to …(fill in the blank of your favorite demagogue), pretending that they are positive role models and leaders by example?

    Who among principled leaders promoted love and faith and conviction vs today where we see power, hatred, destruction or worse yet, “use me…rather, I’ll use you” to achieve ulterior motives? This is my central problem with the radical opposition today (of course, the authorities may not be shining examples of those traits, but it is the opposition’s responsibility to set the “change” agenda, not the authorities’. And this is true in Armenia and in every other society.)

  16. The leaders of tomorrow are being put to the test today. You can’t make an omlette without breaking a few eggs.

    I agree with you AH that most of us, especially ALL of today’s supposed political leaders, rarely relate to the legacies of the Monte’s and others whose lives served as examples of prinicipled approaches to the state of affairs in which they found themselves. These individuals led by example and put their values into practical practice. You might not agree with their uncompromising approach and the beliefs they held as sancrosant, but you had to admire their determination. The best of them however always saw the need to compromise when the situation called for it but this was a tactic not a part of their overall strategy.

    Sadly, for those who entered the present coalition, their strategy has been and remains obtaining the reins of power at the cost of compromising their principles – if they had any to begin with. Such an approach would have been anathema to Mandela, Monte and the rest.

  17. The elections showed that we haven’t been doing much to cultivate opposition. It could be that Armenia is on the hard path of cultivating opposition. Usually, time itself creates conflicting interests among the ruling elite and thus one gets two packs. But this could take years, and it isn’t an attractive route to democracy exactly because it might take 100 years before a solid opposition emerges this way. What can be done to speed up the process? Certainly boycotting Sirushos or certain grocery shops aren’t helping anyone, and perhaps even such activities slow down the process. It really feels that the only way opposition could emerge in Armenia is if Levon and his pack are pushed completely aside so that others more imaginative and motivated people could come forward. Right now they are not only hindrance for the ruling party but also for the opposition. Perhaps they are not even a hindrance for the ruling party as today they are basically damaging their own image. But they are definitely a hindrance for the other opposition parties.

    But what Armenia needs at this very moment is not just an opposition leader. One also needs a lot of human rights activists. Our Ombudsman, though a hard working man, is too weak to make a difference. Cultivating leaders in this department might not be as hard as cultivating opposition. This is something that we all can actually contribute to and it might ultimately lead to a better opposition.

    Lastly, the government itself has to invest in opposition and human rights activists. No government can be popular if they are the only ones who advertise solid political agendas. There is always the feeling among the people that we could do better and we just have the wrong people. This administration only invested in a miniature hate-based opposition. So the fault is on their side as well. They will gain immensely if they start investing in solid opposition. But they are understandebly scared; they should be.

    So it could just be that we are rushing.

  18. what do you guys think about applying some of what Singapore has done in Armenia, i.e, making heavy investments into research and education? If all we have is the people then this might actually make a lot of sense. We could also attract a lot of foreign investments (as they all look for cheap science), and a lot of foreign students. I know that there has been work done in this direction (they opened the Slavic university, they have been constantly attracting a lot of Indian students, they have also maintained our physics institute and observatory) but it doesn’t seem that the investments are heavy in the sense that heavy returns aren’t expected.

  19. why is Zimbabwe making more headlines in the department of controversial elections than Armenia? NY Times covered Armenian elections only on March 1st, weeks after the actual elections., and rarely returned to it afterwards.

  20. Maybe because the elections themselves were “largely run according to Council of Europe standards”? People may be upset with the results, and with the many flaws in the process, but the elections were the best in 17 years in Armenia according to observers. Of course, the post-election events dragged down Armenia’s image and that is clear to all.

    Nevertheless, it seems the elections were a step forward.

  21. maybe you are right. It could also be that our elections made such a buzz this time around (amongst us that is) because all the other times internet wasn’t so readily available. We have now videos of actual ballot stuffing and this is the first time such videos have been available (am I right?, is this really the first time that so many videos on election fraud are so readily available?).

    I remember it was very hard for me to get reasonable coverage of 2003 elections. In that sense this one is indeed 5 steps forward.

  22. Pingback: First two appointments to key posts: Foreign Ministery and Ministery of Defense « The Armenian Observer Blog

  23. Hey Grigor,

    What planet are you living on????Really…

    Singapore type investment, govt financing the opposition???

    Get real man. Armenia’s needs and the wishes of the people for the rule of law and a real say in the government are the issues of the day!!!!

  24. Last time I checked it was earth, maybe I was mistaken, but certainly wine is good here, which makes me think that it must be earth.

    i didn’t mean government giving money to the opposition but rather letting them exist and not crash them the way our government does. If they keep crashing the opposition then the opposition will only become more hate based.

    Those are maybe the issues of the day, but there isn’t much progress towards its resolution. In fact there probably cannot be unless some work is done. Identifying problem is one thing, looking for its solution is another. Just talking about the problem will lead us nowhere. Unless the government starts investing the money in key places, you will never have the necessary tools to solve such vague problems as

    […] Armenia’s needs and the wishes of the people for the rule of law and a real say in the government are the issues of the day!!!! […]

    There has already been much talk about the need of human rights activities and independent movements (I myself have participated in many of these discussions, and I am a proponent of it), but you need to do some work before you can truly have such things that are, above all, not of destructive nature. Whatever the opposition is cooking today in this department is rather destructive.

  25. Well, it would seem that the govt isn’t ready to let the opposition exist, let alone operate freely. And they won’t without a vocal and activist opposition. This is what is needed today in our country!!!! It will not be accomplished by entering into the so-called coalition govt. People talk about how “hateful” the opposition is but fail to see the reasons why many remain angry.. It’s as if the regime had absolutely nothing to do in terms of engendering all that “hate”….

  26. No, that is not accurate. I, as one who has been critical of the opposition for its hate-mongering, have never said that the authorities haven’t encouraged the anger and frustration. Much of the anger and frustration is a direct result of unfairness in Armenian society today, and the government has not done a sufficient job at fighting it.

    But, wait a second, since when are such failings excuses for racism and hatred? We have had decades (centuries) of governance where the interests of the Armenian people have been tossed aside. What is so new about that? That justifies hate-inspired call to arms to attack the state? Riling up people to hate on one hand and painting them as human rights victims on the other? This hate more than anything else led to 10 deaths. THAT makes me angry and sad.

  27. You guys continue to equate the state with the ruling regime, and therein lies your failing to get beyond whatever complexes you suffer from that leads you to taking what can only be termed as a myopic view of the situation. You throw out terms like “hate-monerging” and “calls to rascism” by the opposition as a blanket condemnation of their actions but here too you are parroting the line of the ruling regime to demonize those in opposition to the current regime. The demonization and slanderous attacks of the regime in labelling those who took to the streets in righteous protest as “hypnotized, misdirected and puppets” merely serves to expose who is actually manipulating public sentiment in the most negative of ways and to the detriment to the nation.

    Your statement that, “that justifies hate-inspired calls to arms to attack the state”, is so baseless in fact that I amazed you’ve even stooped so low to defend your apparent
    accomodation to the present regime and its violations of all civilized norms of governance.

  28. Well, I have always agreed with AH, and I don’t understand why Mher is disagreeing.

    Neither AH nor me are advocating the government, AH, I believe, many times stated his dislike of various government activities and how negative some of it are for Armenia. I did the same many times. But AH and I want opposition that is not based on hate towards the ruling party, and this seems to be the core of our misunderstanding. I myself despise a lot of what our current government has done (I suspect AH does the same), but one has to know how to separate strong disapproval of ones actions from strong disapproval of ones persona. I got nothing against Serj, Kocharian and the CO as people, though I got a lot against them as politicians. It is just as simple as that.

    But our main opposition has equated Kocharian the politician with Kocharian the person, and then they even stated that the only reason that Kocharian messed up was because of his persona and further because of his ethnicity. Well, I just don’t see the connection. If you do then please explain me and I will agree with you if your explanation makes sense.

    Both of us said many times that the government itself is responsible for a hate based opposition. I for one, strongly disapprove various meaningless statements made by the government. For instance, Oskanian before leaving declared that the government is facing a dilemma. On one side they have stability and security of the nation and on the other they have human rights and democracy. And current administration is facing a dilemma, which one should they choose. Such statements only direct a large portion of the population against them. The statement itself makes no sense, as how can that be a dilemma. As if security and democracy cannot coexist.

    So I don’t by no means support the current government, they have made wrong decision in many important corners and that indeed partially resulted in such an opposition. But opposition always makes a political decision to be this or that way. They have chosen the dirty way, knowing that there is almost universal disapproval of many of the government’s tactics. Had they chosen a more civilized way of responding the government, we might of had a better country today.

  29. Bravo, Mher. I tried to present arguments in line with those of yours in response to these blogers’ posts, but I must admit that your nervous system and tranquility of your mind are sturdier than mine. No personal offense meant, whatsoever, but I’m afraid they represent that specific category of people who would rather conform to rulers whoever they might be and would readily shift ‘allegiance’ to a new ruler if they see that the throne of the current one is shaking. I wonder if they haven’t supported Levon, whom they keep badmouthing now, during his time as president simply because at that time Levon was a ruler.

  30. It is not about conformism. It is about real choices. Let me put it another way: quite simply, if this was indeed a power struggle, then I am glad that Serj won out and Levon lost. Does this make me a conformist? Pro-Serj? To be honest, I am not sure, as I don’t understand what is gained by such labeling. Maybe you can say quite accurately that I am against what Levon represented, and given a choice between the two, I would have no problem supporting Serj.

    In any case, it is a moot point now. For good and for bad, the elections are over. A government has been formed (just about). And there are 1001 useful things to get working on, whether we are happy or not with the results.

    And yes, I think Grigor more articulately than myself sheds light on what the real issues are here, and what are the differences between those who are strengthening the state, and those who are hide behind every slogan in the book, but are just striving to achieve power.

  31. I have the feeling that continuing such discussion create more silly disagreements between us. In reality, the disagreement is only in whether we should disapprove the government by calling them mean names and by spreading hatred towards them or we should disapprove the government by criticizing their actions and not get personal at all. Some choose the second some choose the first. But whatever we choose we should always ask ourselves if that choice is helping to build a better future for the country. So lets instead of continuing this rather pointless line of arguments just pose for a second and ask that very question, does our way of thinking move the country forward or backward?

    No need to get emotional, and no need to get nervous and etc. This is just a discussion, at this point rather pointless one, and there is no need to create tensions or get angry or even try to insult each other.

  32. Akhach,

    just to help you get over this issue. I voted for Hajrikyan in 1991 (or 1992 I forgot). Then for Manukyan. Then I was leaning towards Kocharian in 1998 but end up not voting for anyone. That has been my general philosophy ever since. I will never ever participate in presidential elections as I deeply distrust elections and over the time have become more of a socialist leaning towards some form of anarchisms. I believe in the power of the people, and I don’t see how a politician can truly represent people. In short, elections are just not my cup of tea.

  33. I’ve seen your posts elsewhere, AH and Grigor, and, given their general proclivity, I must say that in reality the disagreement is much deeper and is, in essence, multi-dimensional and not just about whether we should disapprove the government by calling them mean names or disapprove the government by criticizing their actions. Or, I’d add based on your comments, tend to approve the government before it undertook actions knowing too well that the government is illegal, unelected, anti-popular, and already has a proven record of wrongdoings. While I understand that you’re in your own right to express an opinion, this is roughly the immediate impression that people get from your comments.

    I think what makes other blogers frustrated is an element of dishonesty, hypocrisy, and surrealistic detachment from the realities on the ground, found in your comments.
    First of all, the continual portrayal of the buffoonery that took place in February as “elections” and that “for good and for bad, the elections are over”. Do you understand how repulsive this may sound to urban intellectuals, to the large segment of the Armenian electorate, and to the relatives and friends of those young kids brutally killed in March? If you don’t see how a politician can truly represent people, and if elections are not your cup of tea, then just be honest enough as to not call the mockery “elections”.

    Yet, more hypocritical is a notion that the “real issues” are those that are pertinent to differences between those politicians who are strengthening the state and those who are just striving to achieve power. Well, the evidence of our brief independence shows that virtually no government that reached office through the unfair election or opposition that has been incapable or often incapacitated to achieve the same objective cared about the strengthening of the state. Rather, both camps, to the equal extent of responsibility, cared chiefly about the need to secure existence in power or obtain power, respectively, at any price. To allege that this government who are by no account newcomers, whose “state-strengthening” endeavors people came to observe, and suffer from, first-hand, and who are mostly self-centered corrupt people, may now undergo a magical metamorphosis and start strengthening the state, is short-sighted and repugnant.

    Lastly, a better future for any country is being built when at the foundation there is a constructive criticism from civil society addressed to their government, when popular concerns are expressed in a free, unrestricted way, and when opposition—however unpleasant and power-hungry it may be considered by certain segments of a society—is unconstrained in getting the message across. The humankind hasn’t invented any other effective way to move a country forward. And Armenia is not an exception. I said this on many occasions: have more confidence in what judgments the people may make and whom they want to see as their leaders. This is, of course, not a panacea from bad rulers that could be installed to the throne as a result of people’s choice. But at least people will learn their own mistakes and correct them afterwards.

    BTW, I’m really sorry if your opponents’ viewpoints, many of them impressively convincing, reasonable, and well-articulated, have been understood by you just as “labeling” efforts.

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