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Main Opposition Bloc Outlines Slate of Reforms at Pre-Election Rally

“The Armenian National Congress [HAK], perhaps, is the only political force in Armenia that doesn’t need to present a special election platform,” said HAK leader Levon-Ter-Petrossian at a rally organized by the opposition bloc earlier this evening — but then dedicated much of his speech to the “fundamental directions” of HAK’s election campaign platform.

Prior to listing these fundamental directions, however, the opposition leader outlined a series of statistics of the deplorable situation in the country. Ter-Petrossian mentioned that in the past four years (1998–2011), “as a result of the current administration’s activities,” among other things:
– Armenia’s GDP fell by 11.54% and the state budget by 10.9%
– The country’s foreign debt went from $1.5 billion to $3.8 billion
– The Armenian dram depreciated by about 25%
– The outflow of capital amounted to $5 billion
– Armenia dropped from 99th to 129th place in a corruption index ranking countries around the world
– The poverty statistics index rose by 12% reaching 35%
– According to official statistics, 120,000 emigrated from Armenia (the difference of those who left and those who returned)
– More than 200 conscripts died during times of peace
– 58% of parliamentary deputies, in strict violation of the RA Constitution, engaged in entrepreneurial activity
– And finally, issues of vital significance to Armenia — Armenia-Turkey relations and Karabakh conflict settlement — have reached a deadlock in foreign policy

Listing the several documents HAK has developed over the years, Ter-Petrossian pointed out that these documents outline HAK’s specific activities if it comes into power. It’s important to note, if elected into parliament, one of the first items on the Armenian National Congress’ agenda will be Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan’s impeachment.

Though Aram Manukyan, leader of the Pan-Armenian National Movement (HHSh), a member of the HAK opposition bloc, said earlier that today’s rally was not a campaign rally, but an informational rally (as campaigning is officially prohibited until Apr. 8), Ter-Petrossian outlined several reforms he intends to implement if HAK secures a weighty presence in parliament.

These include establishing impartial commissions to investigate the circumstances surrounding the events of Mar. 1; financially compensating families of victims of Mar. 1 and those injured by guns and missiles; reviewing the make-up of the Constitutional Court; allocating family allowances “with the aim of more or less improving the democratic situation and reducing migration losses”; moving to a state-funded healthcare system where not healthcare facilities but individuals are compensated; making radical changes to the electoral code; and removing the controversial provision on involving the army in the law on the rule of law during a state of emergency, among several other reforms.

Other speakers at today’s rally included Avet Poghosyan, nominated in the no. 6 electoral district; People’s Party of Armenia leader Stepan Demirchyan; and senior HAK representatives and election candidates Levon Zurabyan and Nikol Pashinyan.

Zurabyan pointed out that for the first time in independent Armenia, the opposition has nominated candidates in 39 electoral districts. “Added to this will be that television will be available to us soon. We now live in a completely different era — in the era of Facebook and YouTube, it’s not possible to deprive people of information.”

Pashinyan, in turn, spared a few words for tycoon and MP Samvel Aleksanyan, backed by the ruling Republican Party of Armenia and nominated in the same electoral district as him. Drawing attention to Aleksanyan’s notable absences in parliamentary meetings, the outspoken oppositionist said: “If you have been absent for five years, then you are suffering from a dangerous chronic illness. If you are ill, then I will relieve you from that burdensome responsibility, parliamentary work, I will help you seek treatment.”