Saturday, November 26, 2005

What does “APOLITICAL” mean?

When Samvel Babayan first announced his Dashink party earlier this year, he said that it was an apolitical organization which would not be getting involved in politics.

Well in today’s NOYAN TAPAN’s article titled “SAMVEL BABAYAN: WHILE POWER IS CENTRALIZED AND LOCAL SELF-GOVERNMENT BODIES ARE NOT INDEPENDENT IN ARMENIA, FIGHT AGAINST CORRUPTION IS INEFFICIENT,” it seems that Samvel’s initial claims as to have started an apolitical organization was not accurate. I’ll bet that many of the things stated in this interview are fiction.


YEREVAN, NOVEMBER 25, NOYAN TAPAN. The Armenian newspaper "Azg" recently organized an on-line interview with Samvel Babayan, an Artsakh hero, Chairman of the party Dashink. People from various countries sent their questions to S. Babayan. The interview published on the webside of "Azg" is presented below with some abrigement:

Question (Marieta Khachatrian, the newspaper "Azg"): What section of Armenia's political field are you going to occupy, is there anything that others do not do and you will engage in?

Samvel Babayan: Together with my associates, I founded the party Dashink, and we hope to create such a party that will not be based on the authority of one person, for this reason I make no claim to any section of the political field. What role will Dashink play and how much place will it occupy in the political field depends on efficiency of our work, which will become clear after elections to the National Assembly in 2007. I don't know what others do or do not do, we do act

Question (Marieta Khachatrian, "Azg"): Do your approaches to the solution of the Karabakh problem differ from the official poistion of the authorities?

S.B. We see the conflict settlement from the perspective of the following four fundamental principles:

1. interim sovereignty under the patronage of an authoritative international organization,

2. voluntary resettlement of refugees and displaced persons,

3. creation of preconditions for economic development of Artsakh,

4. solution of the issue of Artsakh's status through holding a new referendum.

Add to it the interviews I gave last year, and I am sure that the respected correspondent can compare it with the official position of the authorities and get answers to all her questions.

Question (Marieta Khachatrian, "Azg"): You announced your intention to participate in all elections. In alliance with what parties do you consider it possible to run in the future parliamentary elections?

S. B: "Dashink" is not going to contract an alliance with any political party during parliamentary elections, we have entered into an alliance with our people and will take part in elections in anticipation of its trust.

Question (Aghajanian Yura, Samara, Russia): I live in Russia. The Armenians and Azeris here are on good terms, many even made friends with each other. Will there be a moment when Armenia and Azerbaijan will become friendly?

S. B: Azerbaijan and Turkey are our neighbors. Despite numerous problems, I am convinced that the future depends on mutually beneficial cooperation in the region. All neighbors of Armenia, except Iran, consider the European integration as the main issue on their political agenda. I believe that it will in its turn promote the regional integration processes. I am optimistic and take the view that in case of such development, a moment will come indeed when we will have the best relations not only with Azerbaijan but also with our other neighbors.

Question (Poghosian, Yerevan): Are you going to fight aganst corruption? Make your special promise to a general.

S. B: Of course. Althogh opinions vary on the issue of mechanism of fight. Some believe that a couple of corrupted persons should be publicly executed by shooting so that others can learn their lesson. Others express a view that the fight against corruption requires the adoption of certain strategical programs, or even receiving new state loans. In my opinion, the fight against this evil should be conducted by making certain system changes in the governance system of the country. While the prosecutor's office is not independent in its activities, while court judges show arbitrariness with respect to our citizens, and more importantly, while the power is centralized and local self-government bodies are not independent in our country, the fight against corruption is inefficient.

Question (Armen Khachatrian, Armenia): Will you consider yourself a legitimately nominated candidate at the next presidential elections?

S.B. I have said many a time that I am not going to become a President.

Question (Anahit, Armenia): What is the situation in Armenia?

S. B: I am not saisified with the situation in Armenia, with problems existing in all the spheres that constitute the important components of liberal values. I see problems with respect to the separation of the power branches, the decentralization of power based on the principle of self-governance of local bodies, the supremacy of the law, public control over the authorities, freedom of speech, inviolability of property, liberalization of economy, equality of citizens' rights and in other spheres.

Question (Ashot, Armenia, Yerevan): Don't you think that the October 27 was organized by Kocharian and Serge? Who will be our next President?

S.B: A am not a prosecutor or a judge. You have witnessed the court examination for years on end, and the fact that your suspicions have not been dispelled also speaks of the imperfection of our judicial system. I do not like to make predictions and cannot say who will become the next President. What I know is that a lot depends on the next parliamentary elections.

Question (Shavasp Adamian, Canada, Toronto): Mr General, you also want power, but who will fight? The Azeris will advance soon. Maybe you believe that the Armenian boys will fight whereas men of Artsakh will rule in Yerevan? Don't you think that Artsakh should live separately with its people? Kocharian has learnt a lot, take him with you. We will help the free republic of Artsakh.

S. B: I dedicated all my conscious life to the defence of our homeland and ensuring the security of our children. My notion of Homland's borders is different. I believe my people, my soldiers, during the war I never asked if my guys were from Stepanakert, Yerevan or Toronto. We defended together our homeland, state and people. In case of a resumption of war, I will be again with my soldiers, not asking any questions about the small homeland of each. We will again speak about the security of our single Homeland - Armenia. It is regrettable that we have a mania for seeking internal enemies. The Diasporan Armenians were such enemies in the mid 20th century - at the time of repatriation, now it is the turn of Karabakhi Armenians, or Armenians from Javakhk or Aparan - from the point of view of some people. If you like such animosity among our small nation, it is your business, not to say your mistake.

Question (Zaven, Yerevan): What is your approach to the events that took place on April 12-13, 2004? In your opinion, what is the mechanism, what should be changed, what important things should be done in order to form the power in the country in such a way as is stated in the law - by the people, in a fair way? Don't you think the authorities have distributed the 2006 budget revenues shamelessly, deepening the social injustice in the country?

S.B: I cannot say anything about the April 12-13 events since at that time I was not at large. Yet I think that the political force that organizes rallies and processions should feel fully responsible for all citizens involved. These parties should be so organized as not to allow the use of force against their supporters.

In our opinion, the whole budget policy should be put on program bases. The state expenditures should correspond to substantiated normatives which are to be discussed and adopted. Otherwise, state expenditures will uncontrolledly increase, with no improvement in the social conditions of the people.

Question (Victor Stepanian): When you were in power, the NKR was an authoritarian country, and you behaved in a provincial and wilful manner which was justified during the war but not after it. Today there is no alternative to democracy both in Armenia and the NKR, and you are far from democracy that requires diplomatic skills from a political figure. I am sure you will find associates but which is more important for you: fulfilment of your ambitions or the destiny of the nation?

S.B: During the war, my major goal was to defend my homeland, and I was completely preoccupied with solution of those problems. After the ceasefire up to 1998, I was mainly engaged in the army building. At that time I was not following the events going on at the rear, while many were arranging problems of their own power in their warm offices. Yet I was aware of the fact that all our achievements would be lost if no radical reforms were implemented in the social sphere - in the field of social and political development. However, my intentions met with hostility. So I had to resign, as well as to send a detailed letter about the reasons for my resignation to the Armenian Defense Minister Serge Sargsian (May 1998). Particularly, I stressed in my letter: "Unfortunately, during my activities I encountered 4 adversaries at once: a) Turks, b) NKR authorities, c) Armenian authorities, d) Armenian Foreign Ministry. If in principle I was to fight against one enemy, it also seemed that against one common enemy for the remaining three ones." My resignation was not accepted, and an opportunity opened to implement my planned reforms. A new government was formed in 1998. From that moment on, a number of laws and acts aimed at solving the most important problems were passed such as those related to the formation of local self-government, the autonomy and direct financing of schools, the improvement of the social insurance system, reforms in the court and legal system, etc. We revised the norms of the state machinery maintenance costs which allowed to raise the minimal salary and pensions. Nobody asked then how we succeeded in doing so. By having revised these norms, we "trod on the feet" of many, infringed on the personal interests of numerous officials. As everybody already knows, all that "crusade" of libel against me and the "staging" of a non-existent trial were organized. If you really want to find out whether I was a tyrant or not, I advise you to examine the laws adopted in that period. Who would benefit from inventing that negative image of me as an authoritarian dictator? All those, whose narrow personal interest was damaged as a result of the reforms. You just fell prey to that misinformative aggression. I would advise those who allow to dupe themselves by various misleading information to pay attention to the source and reasons of rumors.

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