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From Specious Elections to Real Elections: Panelists Debate Issues in Armenia

If I were king I would get Armenia on the path to becoming an agrarian state, said professor at the State Agrarian University, former RA Agriculture Minister Samvel Avetisyan at an event organized by the Civilitas Foundation called “Setting the Electoral Agenda: Part 2,” when asked what he would do in the agriculture sector if he was king.

“Programs shouldn’t be put forth from election to election, then forgotten, only to disappoint villagers; rather, one should have a clear agricultural program,” he said, pointing out that state assistance to villagers is too little.

One of the other panelists at today’s event, chair of Transparency International Yerevan Sona Ayvazyan, on the topic of environmental issues requiring urgent solutions, said the biggest problem in this area is the lack of public participation in decision-making, and that all the environmental issues in the country — beginning from Teghut — are a result of this.

In the opinion of blogger, writer Armen Ohanyan (pictured), the third panelist, however, the real solution to the various issues in the country is a change of government.

“I prefer to have a democratic, agrarian Armenia than an IT-rich, dictatorial Armenia. To speak of politics when the government is a monolith is meaningless. Our only out is democracy. A historical opportunity has been created — to turn specious elections into real elections. The gap between electing and voting has to be filled. There’s one name that doesn’t allow this mechanism to actually be used and that’s the Republican Party. This is our problem, that our opposition has always been divided; the ruling authorities, united — meanwhile the textbook reality is the opposite. I consider these ‘list elections’ — with lists of both election candidates and voters,” he said.

Ohanyan and Ayvazyan placed importance on the role of civil society in the elections.

“In making his choice, every citizen has to ask himself: in the last 5 years, who has eliminated natural resources, who brought agriculture to such a poor state, what changes have been made, who was a part of them and to understand who are the opposition forces,” said Ayvazyan.