Armenia Deviated from Democracy Shahnazarian Says

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–"The Transcaucasus should not be viewed as an environment for the oil pipeline. It is necessary that the Karabakh conflict be solved on a legal plane," National Assembly member David Shahnazarian said speaking at the American University of Armenia.

Addressing the conference "The Transcaucasus Today: Prospects for Regional Integration," Shahnazarian opined that the history of the post-Soviet Armenia’s internal policies can be divided into two stages: before and after the first half of 1995.

During the first period intensive and purposeful democratic and economic reforms were conducted in Armenia–because of which the Republic stood out favorably compared to its neighbors. Shahnazarian said that these reforms also had a favorable influence on Armenia’s foreign policies–that is the country was conducting balanced foreign policy–participating actively in all integration processes within the CIS–European and other international organizations.

In Shahnazarian’s opinion–during the second period following the intensification of the privatization processes–there emerged clans which started actively interfering with the Republic’s internal policies. It was then that tendencies to deviate from the course of democratic and economic reforms began.

In particular–according to him–the decision to create a non-professional parliament was erroneous. "As a result–the process of criminalization of government structures and politicization of clan and criminal structures assumed larger scales. According to him–the following principle started to predominate in the internal policies. Following the 1995 parliamentary elections a situation formed when neither the National Assembly–nor the government were responsible for what was happening.

Shahnazarian said that following the September 1996 events–he called for the National Assembly to be dissolved. However–the proposal was sharply criticized both by the authorities and the opposition. "The authorities accused me of the fact that the dissolution of the National Assembly would cause destabilization–while the opposition held that I was making a bid to draw away public attention from the presidential elections. Today we have a stable National Assembly–but unstable squares and streets," he explained.

In the speaker’s opinion–all those factors affected Armenia’s foreign policies. In the beginning of 1996 some signs of shifting the accent on the determination of Karabakh’s status started to emerge. After the Lisbon Summit the pressure on Armenia intensified–the "policy of breaking hands," the first signs of which have already been shown–started to be pursued.

"This policy of pressure on the part of the West and Russia will cause left forces to boost. Still today there are calls to join the Russia-Belarus Union. I hope that there’ll be no serious discussion of such a disastrous course for Armenia," he said.

At the same time he noted that the risk of resuming military action is now greater. "The initiators of the Lisbon document are trying to set off two OSCE principles against each other–that is the principle of territorial integrity and the right of nations to self-determination. The other OSCE principle was dominating until 1995–that is all disputed matters should be resolved by peaceful means–through holding negotiations. The deviation from that principle threatens the current fragile cease-fire. So–one may assume that there are some who want new escalation of the conflict," he said.

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