We encourage Government to consult with Armenia’s vibrant civil society
Ընթացիկ շաբաթվա սկզբին, «Հրապարակի» հունիսի 30-ի համարում տպագրել էինք ՀՀ-ում ԱՄՆ դեսպանատնից մեր մի շարք գրավոր հարցերին տրված պատասխանները: Ինչպես սովորաբար, դեսպանություններից տրվող հարցազրույցների դեպքում ստորեւ ներկայացնում ենք տպագրված նյութի անգլերեն բնօրինակը:
As the COVID-19 pandemic doesn’t allow to meet people and do live interviews, there was little choice but to request from US Embassy a written interview with Ambassador Lynne Tracy. So I sent my questions and at the end of last week, on Friday received answers. It’s difficult to imagine that any Ambassador will ever sit and personally pen down replies to interview enquiries while there are dozens of officers at Embassies to help with it. Therefore as a result any written interview objectively maintains little in common with live interviews and rather resembles with statements of Embassy in response to a queries. I pay tribute to honesty and swiftness of US Embassy for noting to me that replies were “attributable to the US Embassy in Yerevan”. Ultimately the outcome was it – not an interview with Ambassador but replies of US Embassy to our questions.
- In an interview granted at the end of his mission to Armenia in the summer of 2018 Ambassador Mills, while asked may Nikol Pashinyan become a Mandela, provided brilliant answer that I never may forget. He told “The time will show whether he becomes Mandela or Mugabe”. Now, as some two years had passed I’m asking for your assessment how far or close does Pashinyan stand to Mandela or Mugabe?
- The Embassy is encouraged by signs of progress in Armenia over the last two years in many areas, including elections reform, labor reform, police reform, local governance, anti-corruption, and more. We are proud to have supported the government in advancing many of these reforms.
We were also pleased to see that Armenia's significant democratic gains have been recognized by the V-dem Project 2020 liberal democracy index where Armenia registered the second highest gains globally. In Freedom House’s 2020 Nation in Transit Report, Armenia achieved the largest two-year improvement of any country in the history of that index.
- As much as I may recall, since his ochlocratic rise to power in 2018 Pashinyan never was greeted by US at any relevant level - neither the US President, nor Vice-President, nor the Secretary of State paid particular attention to him, met him or even changed a word with him. How badly does this obvious non-acceptance – not to say disregard –towards Pashinyan effect the Armenia-US relations and what are the chances for betterment of situation there?
- Our support to Armenia crosses many sectors, including building democratic institutions, fighting corruption, promoting inclusive economic development, and ensuring international security and regional conflict resolution. We also continuously strive to strengthen U.S.-Armenia ties based on shared values.
In May 2019, the U.S. and Armenia launched a new strategic dialogue to strengthen bilateral ties. Last year we welcomed a high-level delegation from the United States for the inaugural meeting of the new strategic dialogue format. Since that time, we have increased bilateral assistance by 45 percent and broadened our cooperation in areas that support key reforms to fight corruption, strengthen the justice sector and promote trade a and economic growth.
We have a strong partnership and are very optimistic about the trajectory of the U.S.-Armenia relationship.
- In this intensified mess when Pashinyan brutally attacks his political opponents both inside and outside the Parliament, using everything from verbal insults to on-line harassment and criminal prosecution, how far do you think his dictatorial aspirations may advance and be tolerated by the international community? If this tendency amounts to violation of Armenia’s international commitments for democracy, rule of law, etc. - then what kind of backlash Pashinyan may face on international stage?
- The embassy does not characterize the current political climate in Armenia in this way and therefore has no further comment on this question.
- I’m sure you’re in course and closely follow the deep confrontation that runs between Pashinyan and the Constitutional Court of the Armenia for almost a year. Pashinyan tries to gain control over the judiciary branch of power in Armenia - something that may absolutely destroy the balance of power in the country. May I ask for your assessment of situation around the Constitutional Court and the chances of international involvement on behalf of CoE, OSCE, etc. for finding a solution to it?
- We support the Armenian government’s efforts to meet the expectations of the Armenian people, who have called for an end to corruption and a justice sector based on transparency, accountability, efficiency, and a commitment to human rights. The Armenian people have made it clear that they support reforms to advance these principles and the establishment of a credible judiciary. We encourage the government to pursue them in a manner commensurate with the Armenian Constitution and in consultation with Armenia’s vibrant civil society.
The United States remains firmly committed to supporting efforts to bolster rule of law and anti-corruption and will continue to work with our Armenian partners to ensure the development of transparent, accountable, and effective institutions.
- My last and most important question. On the eve of 2016 US Presidential elections I was invited to US by State Department FPC. The single institution that impressed me most in US and I wrote about it on my return was your voting system with its smart mechanisms for on-line and mail voting. Given to that back-story I wish to ask couldn’t it be possible through the USAID or some other US assistance channel to introduce these on-line and mail voting mechanisms to Armenian relevant institutions like CEC, Parliament, etc. so they could be studied, localized and merely installed in Armenia. I’m afraid Pashinyan has caused such a mess in the country from failed COVID-19 fight to everything else, that his rather sooner than later removal from power may become inevitable, yet the ordinary ballot-box elections are endangered because of COVID -19 threads to gatherings.
- We will continue to support free, fair and transparent electoral processes in Armenia. USAID, through IFES, continues to support Armenia's efforts to reform its electoral system and strengthen its electoral institutions and is collaborating with the CEC to make electoral processes more accessible to people with disabilities.
Some clarifications for our readers:
Nelson Mandela – was the leader of fight against the apartheid in South Africa who after the end of apartheid became the President of the South Africa and led the country from 1994 to 1999.
Robert Mugabe – one of leaders of fight against the colonialism in Africa in 1960-70-ies, who attained power in Zimbabwe in 1980 and since then gradually turned one of most brutal dictators in the world before being removed from power in 2017.
V-dem Project – is a research initiative founded in University of Gothenburg, Sweden in 2009, that received its first grant from Swedish government in 2010. One of current funders of V-dem project is the Open Society Foundation of George Soros.
Nations in Transition – is a Freedom House initiative, founded almost 10 years ago, that since 2009 publishes reports about 29 post-communist countries in Eastern Europe and Eurasia from former Yugoslavia to Tajikistan, Uzbekistan.