Last week, the Armenian parliament approved the State Budget for 2012. The parliamentary opposition voted against the draft, while some MPs from governing coalition parties opted out of the ballot in which the bill barely passed with 66 out of 131 votes. Some economists have evaluated the budget for next year as ‘poor’ not least because it provides no incentives for the development of the agricultural sector.
The bill proposed by the opposition Heritage party on lustration, or declassifying agents of foreign intelligence services, was effectively turned down by parliament in November. But the debate on the necessity of the measure still continues.
One such discussion of the bill was held by the National Civil Initiative NGO on December 8.
The two-day meeting of the OSCE Foreign Ministers’s Council which opened in Vilnius, Lithuania, December 6 has suggested nothing fundamentally new for resolving the Karabakh conflict.
Some experts expected the signing of a document on the withdrawal of snipers from front lines, but nothing to that effect was signed, instead a joint statement merely called for the specification of mechanisms to investigate incidents at the line of contact.
The victory by the Yedinaya Rossiya Party of Russia’s powerful Prime Minister and president-in-waiting Vladimir Putin may have its implications also for Armenia. The party of Putin maintained its majority hold, but appears to have gained fewer seats in the State Duma than four years ago.
The Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) has nominated current acting parliament speaker Samvel Nikoyan to take the post permanently until the term of the current legislature expires in about five months. Only a couple of days ago the acting speaker was involved in a scandal in the chamber involving an argument with an opposition member and a subsequent row over a speech interruption incident involving an RPA lawmaker. Media speculated in light of the events the RPA would not name Nikoyan for permanent chairmanship, but the chamber row does not seem to have put off the ruling party.
It is already several months that the information flow on the Karabakh conflict has made little reference to political settlement. After the Russia-hosted summit of the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan in June when the parties in fact failed to agree on principles of settlement, international mediators have been talking more about establishing people-to-people contacts and solving humanitarian problems and even about some regional projects. Perhaps this is what the latest visit to Armenia by the European Union’s Special Representative for South Caucasus Philippe Lefort was aimed at.
After the surprise announcement by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who apologized for the massacre of Kurds in Dersim in 1937-39, when, according to official figures, 13,000 were killed, a question arose about the next step. First of all, whether this will be limited to an apology, or there will be some reimbursement to the Kurds for their material losses, and secondly, whether the Turkish prime minister will also apologize to the Armenians for the 1915 Genocide.
President Serzh Sargsyan’s visit to Georgia will take place on November 29-30, delayed, according to media reports, after Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili made “unpleasant” statements about Armenia.
The Armenian military have warned Azerbaijan to refrain from further provocations along the border with Karabakh or face a “disproportionate” response after two Karabakh defense army soldiers were killed by sniper fire over the weekend.
The situation along the line of contact of Karabakh and Azerbaijani armed forces has been far from tranquil in the recent period as peace has been disturbed by mostly sniper fire from the Azeri positions.
The political council of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) held a meeting late on Thursday during which, as the party’s spokesperson Eduard Sharmazanov told media, issues related to the formation of campaign headquarters were discussed.