20 June, 2007
«Oligarchs took political power»
«My most important remark about this session of the Forum is that we did not
only speak about democracy, we tried to practice it. One cannot swim without
going into the water. We tried to get as many people as possible involved in
the process. That is what democracy is about,&raqzo; said Andreas Gross, member of
the Swiss Parliament, rapporteur of the Political Affairs Committee of the
Parliamentary Assembly on the state of democracy in Europe, during the third
CoE Forum for the Future of Democracy.
By Karine Asatryan
What is your opinion on the RA parliamentary election?
It is not easy to answer in a short time, but democracy is not just
something for oligarchic groups. I had the expression that different
oligarchs take political power in their hands in Armenia. But at least you
have a competition. In Azerbaijan they don’t have a competition. But I think
I felt alienation between the people and political parties, which is sad for
Why did the International Election Observation Mission assess the NA
elections a progressive step towards democracy?
This is a diplomatic formula. Because when you made previous elections they
were very bad. So when you made less bad, it’s a step forward. I did not
like it either. I was at the press conference, and saw it was too positive,
and at the same time I saw it was not honest enough. Sometimes the problems
of international observers are that they want to be polite. And while being
polite they serve the privileged people who have a lot of money, they use
the state power for their own business.
Is the situation the same in Azerbaijan as it is in Armenia?
No, it is not the same, but it is not better. Because it is the same
hospital, not in the same beds. As I said, in Armenia you have at least a
competition between different groups. But in Azerbaijan they don't have a
real competition. But there is also no pluralism, and the opposition is not
possible. When there is no opposition, there is no democracy.
Both Azerbaijan and Armenia have to learn that democracy is something with
the people not only for the people. And I hope that both democracies become
stronger because democratic developments in both countries are the condition
that we can solve the Nagorno-Karabakh problem in a civilized way, in a
non-violent way and that we can prevent the war because that could be the
worst thing that could happen.
Do you think that the NKR conflict can be settled in the nearest future?
The time is not essential. The essential is that it is solved without
violence. You have to compromise. You have to prepare people for compromise.
And compromise means that nobody gets everything, nobody is satisfied but
everybody gets something. This is political art. And I am afraid that when
you have oligarchic structures, non-democratic ones, the authorities don't
have the skills and the courage to make such a wise compromise.
Will the Forum for the Future of Democracy promote democracy in Armenia?
Of course. Because when you listen carefully you get thousands of good
ideas. And you see that democracy is much more than a technique. Democracy
is much more than elections and that's why it is important that you listen
and that you tell us what you think. But you see that every democracy is
unfinished and all democracies have to learn. When you listen to this you
can make the best democratic reforms and programs for your country and for