Blue-Eyed Justice: Woman MP’s appointment as minister draws criticism

The appointment of the new justice minister has sparked another heated debate in the political field; the new minister is a woman, she is young, from the prime minister’s camp, and at the same time she is beautiful and charming.

MP Arpine Hovhannisyan, who is a lawyer by profession, was appointed Justice Minister of Armenia by Persident Serzh Sargsyan’s decree on September 4. Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan, introducing the newly appointed minister to the respective ministry staff, said that with President Sargsyan they took into consideration Hovhannisyan’s experience, professional knowledge and non-biased nature.

Havhannisyan, 33, has a PhD in law, worked at the Justice Ministry; from 2008 to 2011 she was Parliament Speaker Hovik Abrahamyan’s adviser. She was voted into the Parliament on the election slate of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia in 2012.

Nevertheless, these days the debate in media and social networks is not particularly over Hovhanissyan’s professional qualities but rather over her “not accidentally” appearing in the position.

According to different media sources, from now on the informal justice minister will be Abrahamyan.

“Undoubtedly, the aim of the prime minister was not just to provide his previous aide Hovhannisyan with a ministerial portfolio; it’s hardly possible that the prime minister owed anything to her. The justice minister’s post is a political resource for Abrahamyan, which he needs badly in the internal political struggle,” writes Lragir.am.

There were also opinions that through the young female minister in Armenia the monopoly of male politicians, in other words to have representatives of the stronger sex in top positions, will be broken at last. Only the Diaspora and Culture Ministers’ portfolios have been held by women ever since. There are no female mayors or governors in Armenia, only 14 out of 131 MPs are women, and only once in the past a woman ran for presidency in Armenia.

In an interview with Tert.am Hovhannisyan said: “The pledge of success is the establishment of honest relationship with people, fairness in every kind of relationship, never to stop, even when most people try to pick at your every fault and not encourage your progress.”

Not well-aware of Hovhannisyan’s professional abilities and qualities people in social media focus mainly on one question: how principled is the young, newly appointed minister to be able to oppose the whole system, to carry out amendments in the field of justice, if, of course, she is not “another henchman minister” of the governing pyramid?

“Another incompetent person who has no stance of her own has been appointed minister. Well, isn’t there anyone among these people to say, “I can’t do this job”? Have some self-respect, for God’s sake, say “I am not up to this job,” wrote David Grigorian, an analyst with Washington-based Policy Forum Armenia think tank.

Hovhannisyan is a permanent member in Armenia’s delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), lectures at the Yerevan State University, in the Department of Civil Right, her monograph “Legal Regulation of Real Estate Issues” has been published recently.

Ethnographer and civic activist Hranush Kharatyan wrote on her Facebook account that instead of discussing Hovhannisyan’s good and bad qualities, there should be questions directed to her starting from those related to the revealed public criminal cases over the Nairit chemical plant, offshore revalations linked to the name of the ex-prime minister, the undoubedly groundless price hikes sought by the Electric Networks of Armenia (ENA) for Armenian households, etc..

“The debates over these issues were during her time as an MP, and if in that time she didn’t show enough interest in the problems directly connected to justice and is not aware of their details, the efficiency of her work is doubtful. As an MP she voted for the agreement of monopolistic provision of natural gas at a fixed price by Russia, which put Armenia in a state of vassal dependency. Today Russia sells natural gas at this price only to Armenia. How does she estimate the consequences of her voting?” said Kharatyan.