The appointment of Karen Karapetyan as Armenia’s Prime Minister caused euphoria among many people, and that feeling was justified in a way. However, a few months later we hear claims of a different tune:
“Karen Karapetyan is no different from the rest of them. He’s a part of that criminal, oligarchic system!”
“Karen Karapetyan has no real intention to fight corruption. If he did, certain people would be serving prison sentences by now.”
“Karen Karapetyan agreed with Serzh Sargsyan to stay out of some sectors.”
The list of claims and assumptions goes on. To keep the conversation honest, I admit that Prime Minister often gives a reason for those assumptions when he avoids making important statements by giving laconic answers.
Let’s keep in mind that “politics is the art of the possible” and answer several questions:
Was Karen Karapetyan able to bring new people to the Government and made his cabinet look more or less like a team?
Was Karen Karapetyan able to save state finances by closing a range of “bird feeders”?
Was Karen Karapetyan able to speak to governors, business people and the youth in a manner which positioned himself as a partner and not an arrogant superior?
I answer to all those questions, “Yes,” but that doesn’t mean I am satisfied with Prime Minister’s actions.
In my opinion, the biggest problem is that Karen Karapetyan doesn’t want to become a political figure. I understand that the image of a businessman and technocrat manager is more familiar to him, but Prime Minister should realize he won’t be able to achieve his goals fully unless he becomes a politician.
Today Karen Karapetyan has a significant advantage. I will speak openly, the ruling RPA party and the President need him more than he needs them. I believe that Prime Minister should capitalize that advantage ahead of the elections, and do that in the public domain. We don’t know the real reasons of his resignation from the position of Yerevan Mayor five years ago, but we assume that breach of certain agreements was the problem. To avoid repetition of that scenario, Prime Minister needs to publicly fix the key points, which, if overstepped, will make it impossible for him to govern.
The fact is that even after taking the position of First Vice President in the ruling RPA, Karen Karapetyan didn’t acquire a significant stand within the party. Prime Minister doesn’t have any serious levers of influence in the media either.
However, Karen Karapetyan has something many other political figures don’t – the trust of a large group of the society. At times it’s emotional and irrational, but no matter how strange it sounds, that’s what makes trust real and sincere. In the absence of real political and media stands the society becomes Prime Minister’s only organic ally.
Both sides must act. Prime Minister should prove that if something “goes wrong”, he will not simply leave like he did five years ago, disappointing many people. If we trust Prime Minister, then we want to be sure that he will at least tell about artificial obstacles when he faces them, so that we know how to respond.
What should we do? You can accuse me of idealism and political naivety, but we cannot allow Prime Minister to get disappointed. We should each of us try to support Karen Karapetyan to the best of our abilities. We can do it in various ways: by suggesting a good idea, pointing out failures, voicing problems.
Of course, we found ourselves in some trap ahead of the elections. If we want Karen Karapetyan to remain on his position, we’ll have to vote for RPA. It is difficult to imagine what supernatural efforts Prime Minister has to make to convince the people to vote for the power that many blame for the situation, which required appointment of Karen Karapetyan to get fixed. Now the following issue, which I already mentioned, is important more than ever: a person, who will vote in favor of the ruling party “for the sake” of Karen Karapetyan against their own will, needs to be sure that later said Prime Minister will not step down and leave “without a fight”.
I don’t know if Prime Minister sees himself as a man who’s ready to make sacrifices to bring us out of this situation. It’s evident that Karen Karapetyan is not a revolutionary by his nature and however hard we wish, we cannot make him one. The issue at hand is different. We need to try to prove to each other that top official and the public can really depend on one another. If that works out, things will change in Armenia.
Ara Tadevosyan is Director of Mediamax