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 the democracy.

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 yourself.

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