ArmeniaNow.com - Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
 May 23, 2003 




Outside Eye: A non-Armenian's view of life in his adopted home


Sunday is another election in Armenia and we all know what that means.

That's right. Another chance for several hundred foreigners to pour into town on tax-payer expense accounts, tell the world what a screwed up place this is, then go back to their campaign perfect homes. Like (home of the "dimpled" ballot) Florida, for example.

Several hundred of them are here now, leaving Yerevan today to spread out through the country like so many schoolteacher nuns with rulers ready to smack the ill behaving.

By Tuesday we should be able to read their reports. Why wait? I'll tell you now what they're going to say:

" . . . Showing slight improvement over the massive irregularities of the recent presidential elections, the frequency of infractions during parliamentary elections was still enough to cause serious concern for the democratic process in Armenia. Most observers agreed that the decline of infractions are more a reflection of a passive attitude toward the lesser election, than a signal of genuine improvement in the voting process. . ."

The reports will use phrases such as "serious concern" and "substantial changes are recommended". Then those who made the reports will board planes with their "serious concerns" and be back in paradise long before "substantial changes" ever reach discussion tables.

Living here nearly four years, I think I've earned the right to tell you that those observers are correct. This place is screwed up when it comes to (among other things) elections.

But what incentive is there for change? Armenians may be a little daft at the democratic process, but they're not stupid. Here's my point, (mine now that I stole the idea from a friend):

Why should Armenia clean up its election system when the economy is getting such a boost by the present conditions? I'm not talking about corruption or the shadow economy or any of that. I mean this:

Any time several hundred foreigners visit a country this small, there's got to be a financial boom for at least a few significant enterprises. They eat in the best restaurants, sleep in the best hotels, pay good money for interpreters and drivers and buy roundtrip airline tickets.

I'm thinking elections once every five years is shortsightedness and restricted opportunities for Armenian business. This place should start having absolutely abbhorrent elections for every post it can think of.

Hold elections for school-teaching positions, for coaching jobs, for street sweepers. There's a bonanza waiting.

For that matter, turn the big campaigns into twice yearly events rather than twice a decade and run the things with such blatant disregard for honor (God knows the Armenians have the experience) that international agencies will post permanent do-gooders here with open-ended contracts and limitless spending power.

Now here's my report to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the National Democratic Institute or whomever:

If you really have "serious concerns" for what goes on in this country, tell President Bob that if this place doesn't clean up its act, you're going to stop sending hundreds of expense-account-wielding observers here to tell on him to the big old world. Then sit back and watch the democratic process kick into gear.


According to Agnes
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Click to enlarge.
 

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  Photo of the week
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Click to enlarge.
 
 
 
  Happy Birthday Chuck

 
 

Charles Aznavour was in Yerevan Thursday to celebrate his 79th birthday. The French recording artist (and "Ararat" film star) was welcomed by fans and dignitaries.

 

 





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