Gagik Tsarukian vs Aharon Adibekian

Armenia’s richest man – Gagik Tsarukyan bets $1 milion, saying sociologist Aharon Adibekyan won’t be able to prove claims, that Tsarukyan’s “Prosperous Armenia” party has a very low rating.
It all started on the air of Shant TV’s “Herankar” talk-show program. The guest in studio, sociologist Aharon Adibekyan, who has many times been accused by various opposition forces and even coalition parties, for manipulating sociological surveys, in response to program host Nver Mnatsakanian’s question made a statement, that the political rating of “Prosperous Armenia” («Բարգավաճ Հայաստան») party is very low.
Next day on the air of the same program Gagik Tsarukyan, the founder and leader of “Prosperous Armenia”, discounted Adibekian’s claims, saying he’ll bet $1 million (later corrected to 1 million Armenian drams), that Adibekian won’t be able to back his claims with data.
E-channel quotes Adibekian saying he’s sorry that “a political figure of that calibre acts on restaurant mentality.”
“Prosperous Armenia” party has in its turn issued a statement, saying “Sociology is generally a serious science, if serious people practice it.” The party revels, that Aharon Adibekyan has been expecting a “tailored” offer from Gagik Tsarukyan, with data manipulated to the tastes of the “Prosperos Armenia” party. The party statement implies, that seeing he is not getting an offer, Adibekian has come out with statements about the low rating of the party.
“Adibekian has now received an offer [Tsarukian’s bet], so instead of pointless talk he ought to either accept it, or apologise in a due manner for dishonoring a serious science like sociology”, the party’s statement concludes.
PS: In a possibly related development Nver Mnatsakanyan, Shant TV’s leading anchor and political journalist, who initiatited the discussion above, was beaten in Yerevan last night.

Big challanges to be faced by the new coalition government

Five out of seventeen ministerial posts have already been appointed, only two of which are new faces:   Foreign minister Eduard Nalbandian, former ambassador to France, and Defense minister Seyran Ohanian, the former head of armed forces. Three ministers retained the positions they held in the outgoing government. Gevorg Danielian (Republican Party) will stay on as justice minister, while Armen Grigorian (Prosperous Armenia) will continue as minister of sport and youth affairs and David Lokian (Armenian Revolutionary Federation-Dashnaktsutiun) as agriculture minister. Interestingly, as this ArmeniaNow analyses points out, despite the landslide victory achieved by the Republicans in 2007 parliamentary elections, the government formed after the elections was a coalition one.
When the non-partisan head of Central Bank Tigran Sargsyan was appointed Premier, after Serzh Sargsyan’s 53% victory, disputed as it may be, it seemed for a moment, that leaning on heavy Republican majority in Parliament and control over the executive branch, Serzh Sargsyan might attempt to form a merit based, professional government. Still, the developments are indicating the opposite. So far the weight of coalition is prevailing, and it seems more coalition appointments are to be expected.
While this is not necessarily a bad thing, I find it strange, that four political forces, with distincltly different political agendas are working in a coalition government. Moreover, with Republicans being strong enough to rule on their own, it is clear, that their political line will be dictating everything, so it looks, as though Bargavach Hayastan, ARF-Dashnaktsutyun and Orinats Yerkir party won’t be able to push any of their appraches through, and have joined the government only to retain some administrative levers and ensure better life for some of their top party officials.
Meanwhile, the new government faces the challanges of strengthening its legitimacy in Armenia and restoring country’s image in the international community. “The Monitoring Commission of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a resolution on April 17 urging the Armenian authorities to implement a number of reforms aimed at improving the situation in the country. PACE suggests launching an independent inquiry into the clashes, releasing all prisoners who did not commit crimes, amending the law on public rallies, and engaging in a dialogue with the opposition. PACE warns that, unless those conditions are met, it will consider suspending the voting rights of Armenia during its next session, which takes place in June.” (April 17, 2008 | RFE/RL)
The expected sharp rise of prices following the rise of natural gas price doesn’t help much with raising the government’s profile. Instead, it gives the opposition more facts to build their struggle – which has been generally a destructive one so far. Seems like the internal situation will remain tense over the next month or two, possibly with the influence of opposition gradually declining, although – if the government keeps the policies observed over the past week – price-rises, which should have been avoided at all costs in this tentative and tense political period, we might just as well see the opposite.
No changes are expected in the foreign policy sphere either. “In his first major foreign-policy speech on April 16, Armenia’s president was uncompromising. “Azerbaijan must understand the simple reality that the existence of the republic of Nagorno-Karabakh’s independence is irreversible,”Sarkisian said. “The people of Nagorno-Karabakh have won their right to a free and independent life. And through our efforts, that right must be recognized by the international community.” (April 17, 2008 | RFE/RL)
For all the optimists out there – gather as much of it as you can, ‘couse looks like you will badly need it.

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