BY HARUT SASSOUNIAN
On November 18, 2020, a few days after the end of the Artsakh War, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan published a roadmap of promised actions in the following six-months. The Prime Minister also promised that “In June 2021 I will deliver the performance report of this roadmap, and the public opinion and reaction will be taken into account for deciding future actions.”
Now that seven months have passed from the Prime Minister’s roadmap of 15 promises, I would like to review his accomplishments and failings. Regrettably, Pashinyan has not kept his specific promise to deliver in June of 2021 a report on his performance vs. his promises. Such a report would have been very useful for the voters in Armenia to decide whom to support in the June 20, 2021 parliamentary snap elections which will select the next Prime Minister.
Rather than engage in mutual accusations and insults, the various political parties should have addressed the important issue of Pashinyan’s promises both kept and not kept. He said in November 2020 that he considered himself “the number one responsible person for the situation. I am also the main responsible person for overcoming the situation and establishing stability and security in the country.”
Let us now see if the Prime Minister has indeed succeeded in “overcoming the situation” resulting from the war and “establishing stability and security in the country.”
Here is Pashinyan’s 1st promise: “The restoration of the Karabakh negotiations process in the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship format, with the emphasis of prioritizing the status of Artsakh and return of Artsakh residents to their places of residence.” I would say this promise is mostly unfulfilled as the Minsk Group remains ineffective in settling the conflict. The status of Artsakh is unresolved. Azerbaijan is ignoring the Minsk Group, as it considers the Artsakh issue resolved by force. Russia believes the status is an issue for the future. Most of the refugees have returned to Artsakh, although several thousand still remain in Armenia.
Pashinyan’s 2nd promise: “Ensure the return of the residents of Artsakh to their homes. Entirely restore normal life in Artsakh. Restoration of damaged homes, apartments and infrastructures in the territories that are under the control of the Nagorno Karabakh authorities.” Normal life has not been restored in Artsakh, as thousands of people have lost their homes which are in the territories occupied by Azerbaijan. Others have their homes destroyed or damaged. Most Artsakh refugees have returned from Armenia. Artsakh’s authorities have restored some of the infrastructures. This is also a mostly unfulfilled promise.
Pashinyan’s 3rd promise: “Ensure social guarantees for the families of killed servicemen and citizens.” This is a mostly fulfilled promise.
Pashinyan’s 4th promise: “Restoration of residential and public buildings and infrastructures in the territory of Armenia that were affected during the war.” There has not been a major damage inside Armenia. Nevertheless, the government has given financial assistance to some border villagers who lost their homes. Mostly fulfilled.
Pashinyan’s 5th promise: “Ensure social guarantees, prosthesis process and professional training for servicemen who suffered disabilities.” Some of these actions have been taken, partially with the help of Diaspora Armenian doctors. No mention is made of caring for the thousands of wounded soldiers and civilians, some of whom are still waiting for treatment. Promise mostly fulfilled.
Pashinyan’s 6th promise: “Speedy return of captured servicemen and civilians. Ensure social guarantees for their families. Speedy clarification of the fates of those missing in action. Ensure social guarantees for their families.” A few dozen of the about 200 captured Armenian soldiers and civilians have been returned, although not “speedily.” In fact, since the war, Azerbaijan has taken 70 additional Armenian prisoners of war. The fate and number of missing soldiers remain uncertain. The families of the missing have been compensated. Promise mostly unfulfilled.
Pashinyan’s 7th promise: “The development of a psychological rehabilitation system for people who participated in the war and overall the entire society.” This is a promise mostly unfulfilled, particularly the part about “the entire society.”
Pashinyan’s 8th promise: “Confirmation of a military reforms program and launch of reforms.” There has been only talk of reforms, but no actual reforms. Promise unfulfilled.
Pashinyan’s 9th promise: “Overcoming of the coronavirus pandemic and elimination of its consequences.” The government’s handling of the coronavirus has been a disaster. Equally disastrous has been the extremely late and slow vaccination process. So far 4,488 Armenians have died of the coronavirus and 223,723 infected. Those who died from the virus exceed those who were killed in the war. Failed promise.
Pashinyan’s 10th promise: “Restoration of the economic activity environment.” Economic activity has been as dismal in Armenia as in the rest of the world. Promise unfulfilled.
Pashinyan’s 11th promise: “Activation of programs for solving demographic problems.” Another unfulfilled promise. No progress in this regard. On the contrary, emigration has increased.
Pashinyan’s 12th promise: “Amendments of the Electoral Code and adoption of a new law on political parties.” The electoral code has been amended, some with immediate effect and others as of next year. The new electoral process is so complicated that most people in and out of Armenia are completely confused. The law on financing of political parties has been amended. Promise is mostly fulfilled.
Pashinyan’s 13th promise: “Introduction of the institution of specialized judges, as the first step in creating the Anti-Corruption Court. Launch of implementation of the illicit asset confiscation law.” Progress was made on the institution of specialized judges dealing with corruption. It remains to be seen if it has any effect on eliminating corruption. Promise mostly fulfilled.
Pashinyan’s 14th promise: “Holding permanent thematic consultations with representatives of Armenia’s political and civil society organizations.” There has been some consultation between the Prime Minister and several political parties, although such consultations have been selective and not permanent. No meetings have been held with civil society organizations. Promise mostly unfulfilled.
Pashinyan’s 15th promise: “Holding permanent thematic consultations with Armenian organizations and individuals in the Diaspora. Involvement of individuals and organizations of Armenia and the Diaspora in the above-mentioned processes.” This has been a total failure. A promise unfulfilled. There have been no occasional, let alone permanent, consultations with Diaspora Armenian organizations and individuals. Despite the Prime Minister’s repeated promises, he has not acted to amend the laws to allow Diaspora Armenians to assume high offices in the government. It has also not made a plan to tap the experience and expertise of Diaspora Armenians, except when it comes to seeking donations with little reporting about their expenditures.
The Prime Minister has Mostly Fulfilled: 5 promises; Mostly Unfulfilled: 5 promises; Unfulfilled: 5 promises. You be the judge.
In my opinion, Armenia has two main tasks to accomplish as soon as possible:
Strengthen the military immediately.
Elect a government of technocrats who have the leadership qualities and expertise to run a country on the brink of collapse.