Monday, April 14, 2008

Week 7 – 13 April: Armenia, moulding the future

Since the 9th Armenia has officially a new President. The inauguration of Sergh Sargsyan, in the frozen centre of the city, kept far from the general public, marks the end of the long election period in the country, started far before the official electoral campaign, with the militant return in the political arena of Levon Ter Petrosyan, and continued in a stormy way after the day of the vote, 19th February.

Rallies, the eruption of police early morning the 1st of march, clashes, state of emergency, deaths and arrests… were all these events just transient, now that the President is in his place, managed to attach to his government a previously opposition party and enjoys – numerically - the support of almost all the Parliament? Something for sure changed, in not forever, at least for a while. The political crisis is not resolved, with people still kept under arrest and a new law on assembly that – for sure – does not meet international standards. Society is still quite polarized, albeit the radical opposition is probably reduced to a small (but rather motivated) group, and, what’s worse, it is cut outside the legal political confrontation. One of the first enemies of a State-mechanism is the creation of extra-parliamentary fractions. Either they are dismantled with force, and this seems to be the strategy adopted, either their issues and representatives enter the legal State framework.

In the third part of his inauguration speech, Sargsyan stated that he “will fully implement the program”, to turn Armenia in a country (of) “mutual respect, love, tolerance […] dignity […] strong, proud, democratic […] peace, stable development”. So ambitious an aim that he added “Alone, no one can turn Armenia into a country of dreams”. So he summed all part of the society, with two captatio benevolentiae targeted to the Church and the intelligentsija, to “overcome polarization, rough confrontation, and discredit”.

Just a couple of sentences, in the fourth part of the speech, for the “painful events” and the following "wounds". No words to the memory of the deceased... quite surprising, for someone who relies so strictly on the army, not even for those who died performing their duties (at least two, the number of dead is nine, now). And some rather alarming statements: “Unchecked freedom can result in conflict […] the State may interfere with the exercise of certain fundamental rights.” These words are extrapolated from their context, but deserve to be underlined in their un-ambiguous meaning. The turn of the screw could be not so ephemeral.

On the other hand, the first step taken, the choice of the Prime Minister, economically more than politically led, may display a pretty technical approach to the management of the State, a factor that could provide a good context to engage a confrontation, not on principles but on needs, with the opposition in the Parliament and outside it.

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