Change and rejuvenation were the leitmotif of the 13th congress of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) that took place in Yerevan last Saturday.
Addressing the congress with a summary report, the RPA’s re-elected chairman, President Serzh Sargsyan called for change, stressing that “one must believe to be able to change.” The phrase that threaded out and held together the hour-long speech by Sargsyan is said to be one of the mottos of the RPA in the parliamentary election campaign officially commencing next month.
Critics, however, have rushed to respond that changes are needed first to restore faith.
Still before its convention, the RPA said it was going to engage so-called “technocrats”, people of a new, European way of thinking in its election campaign. But no list of candidates was presented at the gathering and it is not yet known whether it still will have oligarchs, the old nomenclature, or will feature more reformers and technocrats. The deadline for submitting party lists to the Central Election Commission is March 22, but no party has yet determined and published its ticket for the proportional vote in the May 6 parliamentary elections.
The central message of Sargsyan’s speech at the congress was, perhaps, the statement that from setting goals for economic growth it is time to move on to the concept of economic development. “Beginning today our work will mainly be directed to everyone, to every citizen of the Republic of Armenia. Economic progress will become concrete work for a concrete individual - to have a job and decent wages should no longer be the most common desires of the residents of our country. We used to say - For you, Armenia! Now we have reached the time when we confidently say – a better Armenia for everyone!” said Sargsyan.
In fact, Sargsyan agrees with critics that so far his government’s economic policies have not been reflected on the standard of living of ordinary citizens in Armenia. He says the government has worked to build up macroeconomic indicators, to strengthen the state, its financial and banking system and was able to overcome the crisis. Yet, Sargsyan stopped short of elaborating that it became possible to do so at the cost of increasing the foreign debt.
It is obvious that the Sargsyan speech was rather an outline of the RPA election manifesto and his main endeavor was to try and convince the people to believe in this program.
“There are many among us, who have visited abroad and drew comparison with Armenia, looked with admiring envy at good and nice things observed there. Also felt pain that the same is not present in Armenia. Why can’t we change it? Are we second to anyone?” said Sargsyan.
But his criticism, including via social networking websites, would respond: and who has prevented the RPA that enjoys a majority in parliament from carrying out all those reforms? Why does the party want another election? Isn’t it just another RPA attempt of reproducing itself?
Notably, the congress of the Armenian Republicans was hailed by both president of the European People’s Party (EPP) Wilfried Martens and chairman of Russia’s ruling United Russia party and the country’s president-elect Vladimir Putin. Moreover, the leader of the EPP that the RPA became a member of in February, made a remarkable statement: “Armenia rejects one value system to adopt a new, European, universal one.”