For the first time since the formation of the newly elected parliament, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan addressed the National Assembly to present the government’s program and receive parliamentary approval.
At the end of the Prime Minister’s speech, when it was time for the Q&A, it immediately became apparent that the opposition deputies had no intention to express opinions, criticize, or make proposals on the government’s five-year working plan. Most of their speeches and questions were about the past, particularly the war and its aftermath. Clearly, that is their right and they are free to speak about their preferred subject. However, from the very beginning of the Q&A, it became clear that the opposition’s aim was not to conduct a polite and dignified discussion worthy of the legislative branch. Instead their intention was to turn the Parliament into a place where quarrels and fistfights become the norm.
By transferring their street lexicon into the halls of the National Assembly, it becomes apparent that the small opposition group was not there to do its main work, which is legislation. They were there to disrupt the normal work of the parliament, hoping to create an atmosphere so unbearable, that sometime in the future, it will be able to force new elections in an attempt at reaching its ultimate goal of gaining power.
Prime Minister Pashinyan had no choice but to remind those who were calling him “traitor, surrenderer and land giver” about their own past when they were discussing handing over Meghri to Azerbaijan, the parliament killings of October 27, March 1 killings, numerous political assassinations, the robbing of the state treasury and accumulating millions through corruption.
“The people have decided by their vote who the traitor is, who the surrenderer is, who the land giver is. Do not force me to show who the real traitors are that plundered the state. I urge you to calm down,” Pashinyan said, addressing representatives of the former regime present at the parliament hall.
As for the main issue, the government’s forthcoming five-year plan, one of the most notable provisions was the establishment of an external intelligence service. The last war came to show that the enemy had more information about the Armenian positions and capabilities than Armenia had about Azerbaijan. The Foreign Intelligence Service can be a tool for collecting a database about the two main adversaries, Azerbaijan and Turkey, to be better prepared for their next aggression against Armenia.
The government also promises to increase the minimum wage to 85,000 Drams (About $170 USD), build or renovate 300 schools and 500 kindergartens.
One of the important goals of the government program is to improve the demographic trajectory of Armenia’s population by increasing the birth rate. To achieve this goal, every third child and children thereafter in all families, up to the age of six, will receive 50,000 Drams (About $100 USD) each month. The plan also aims to reduce the country’s poverty rate by double digits by 2026, bringing it down to the 10 percent threshold.
These important issues are of no interest for people who are acting on the principle of “the worse it gets, the better.” This ongoing unhealthy atmosphere undoubtedly disgusts many citizens who are witnessing phenomena that are new to the political culture of Armenia. The continuation of such a situation frustrates the people and harms the future development of the country.
The abuse of the freedoms afforded by the Velvet Revolution is forcing the authorities to take countermeasures, which may sooner or later lead to a retreat from the principles of democracy. It is up to the opposition to lower the temperature so as not to push the government to take steps that could harm the country and the nation at this challenging juncture in our history.