Interview with Boris Navasardyan, president of Yerevan Press Club
Mr. Navasardyan, the program of government was criticized by the National Assembly and described as failure while Armen Ashotyan thinks it is human-centered. Which point of view do you support?
If we evaluate the declarative content of the program, the human-centered approach is obvious but declarative programs are never implemented or declaration sometimes coincides with objective developments and the program is automatically implemented. Generally, I cannot understand what is considered as program of the government of Armenia because the program of the government must be a plan of specific steps and reforms based on serious studies because our economy has no future without reforms. But up-to-date private interests have such big influence on the state policy that the program of the government cannot predetermine anything or it is almost impossible to design something. This is the reason why we do not have and we cannot have a serious attitude to the program of government because regardless of study of the objective situation, objective processes and necessities, every step will be unrealistic without adjustment to powerful private interests. And as soon as you start agreeing actions with the interests of several families and clans, it stops being a program. Therefore, the discussions of programs of the government are usually non-practical and merely reflect the political conjuncture.
Mr. Navasardyan, this time more members of the National Assembly posture as opposition. Is it possible to have an alternative to Serzh Sargsyan in 2013 to win the election? If this is the case, will it end the criminal and oligarchic rule, does a change of government mean pulling down this pyramid?
Theoretically it is possible to have a powerful alternative because the greater part of the electorate is prone to vote for alternative candidates. If the will of this greater part is reflected in the election return, a serious alternative may appear on the political stage. However, it would be too ingenuous to assume a few months before the parliamentary election that we will have a practically different electoral process. Today I can’t see developments that would reject the technology applied to the election of May 6. Ostensibly, the government will use the administrative resource but as of now there is no adequate balance to this use of resource. The reason is that the oppositional political field has been destroyed through years. Today all the forces in the opposition need serious transformation since the opposition (and now only) lack a political force which could be described as well-established, with clear priorities and principles, a program of party building.
Is the PAP convinced about its being opposition or not?
PAP is a party which has been set up to balance matters inside the ruling elite. Now it needs fundamental internal reforms to transform from an establishment party to a genuine opposition party. It will take change of persons, establishment of internal democratic mechanisms. If these are not in place, everything will depend on one or at best two or three persons it cannot be an effective opposition. An Armenian opposition party needs leaders who are ready to fight, who are against unprincipled deals and conformist decisions. The PAP is not such a party yet and it will not become one by the presidential election, even if it wants to.
Mr. Navasardyan, why did the opposition which we thought to be a political force with a different quality in 2007-2008 vanish?
If we mean the ANC in 2007-2008, everyone, including the ANC must be honest and confess that it was the political force of one person which had several effective supporters. In other words, if you removed Levon Ter-Petrosyan from the ANC, no other person of this political force would succeed, and the alliance would not have been formed. Consequently, with the relatively high results in the local elections in Yerevan and the presidential elections, it will be his last election. We see in his speeches that he is prone to leave, and perhaps prefers science, writing books, he is not tempted by political contacts. Hence, the ANC needs an identical important leader. However, in a short period of time it is difficult to prove that the new leader has the same charisma as Levon Ter-Petrosyan to be able to bring people and different groups together. The second option for the ANC could be an organization based on democratic principles which will take more time than to find a new leader.
Mr. Navasardyan, you said in the previous elections we made a commitment to the West to hold better elections. Do you happen to know what commitments were made before the presidential election?
The latest parliamentary elections differ from the previous ones. The results were the same in terms of freedom but differed by the mechanisms used. If no real alternative candidate is nominated in the presidential election of 2013, the mechanisms of falsification will be used less frequently than in the parliamentary elections of 2012. For this purpose the authorities tend to form a political sphere which ensures diversity, not serious opponents. A few months are left till the election but we don’t know who the candidates of the Heritage, ARF and ANC will be. We don’t know whether the PAP will support Serzh Sargsyan or run their candidate. In this uncertainty it is difficult to raise candidate who would have serious ambitions.
Do you think Vartan Oskanian’s scandal is related to his being a possible alternative candidate in the presidential elections?
I tend to think that this step is against the PAP, not Vartan Oskanian, to make this party think that it should not be an alternative and it is better to join and support the president and return to the coalition government after the presidential election.
They have said since the PAP was established that it is Robert Kocharyan’s party. In your opinion, will this factor prevent it from being a serious oppositional pole?
This factor rules out the prospect of the PAP to be real opposition. With its present status it can be one of the poles of fight among clans. On the whole, I believe we need an early parliamentary election because our political field is largely exhausted and to some extent satisfied with what it has. The best means of waking it up, pushing them to fight for their place under the sun, discovering new political actors is elections. Especially that in today’s social and political conditions new elections may generate vibrant social and democratic processes.