Parliamentary Hearings on the Theme Strengthening the Relations between the Society and Army in the National Assembly


On April 15 on the initiative of the NA Standing Committee on Defense, National Security and Internal Affairs and with the participation of the NA Deputies, NA Staff, representatives of different bodies of state administration, about two dozens of international and Armenian NGOs, journalists, Armenian and foreign experts, parliamentary hearings on the theme Strengthening the Relations between the Society and Army were held.

The Chairman of the NA Standing Committee on Defense, National Security and Internal Affairs Koryun Nahapetyan had a welcoming word, noting that the civil oversight of the law enforcement structures with regards to ensuring awareness and transparency, and rising of the public trust and laying them on realistic and practical bases, a new culture was formed in the National Assembly. The two parliamentary hearings and the international seminar are directed to these problems, and they will be held during the upcoming three days.

He informed the attendees that the problem of the parliamentary hearings at the first session would be presented from the view of the institutional perspectives and reform priorities, and at the second session they would listen to the problems concerning the civil society.

The Acting RA Defense Minister Seyran Ohanyan delivered a speech on the issue under debate, noting that the theme of the parliamentary hearings had a tendency of continuous character and also touched upon the negative revelations in the army.

The NA deputy Tevan Poghosyan highlighted three conditions for implementing effective oversight on the armed forces: transparency, reporting and the use of opposing forces through the parliament.

Andrey Sorokin, Head of the OSCE Office in Yerevan, conditioned the importance of the close cooperation between the society and army by the regional position of Armenia and existing challenges. He presented the forms and results trilateral cooperation of the National Assembly, Ministry of Defense and the OSCE Office in Yerevan in the issues of protection of human rights and fighting corruption.

Aleksan Aleksanyan, Major General, Chief of the Morale and Welfare Department of the RA Armed Forces touched upon the measures and the programmes aimed at preventing the shortcomings found in the statutory and legal relations of the army.

Valeri Ratchev, Associate Senior Fellow, the Geneva Center for Democratic Control of Armed Forces (DCAF) made parallels between the Armenian realities of the society-power relation and the experience of the Eastern European countries and advised to learn without repeating the others’ mistakes and only realizing the progressive experience.

Hayk Kotanjyan, Head of the Institute for National Strategic Studies of the RA Ministry of Defense, highlighted the strengthening of army-society mutual relation from the view of efficiency of the armed forces and state security.

At the second sitting of the parliamentary hearings Gegham Harutyunyan, the Chairman of the Public Council adjunct to the RA Minister of Defense, presented the works done by the Council from the view of the civil society, which were directed at preventing the cases of violation of statutory requirements.

Khachik Mkrtchyan, Deputy Chairman of the Board, Union of “Yerkrapah” Volunteers, noted that we should seek the existing shortcomings in the army in the society: the army is the mirror of the society; hence we should implement comprehensive programmes for strengthening that link.

Artur Sakunc, Head of the “Helsinki Citizens’ Assembly Vanadzor Office” touched upon the cases of violations of the statutory relations during the military service, the problem of the soldiers’ welfare, the corruption risks in the army and the military servants’ health problems.

Haykuhi Harutyunyan, Head of the ”Protection of Rights Without Borders” NGO, touched upon the necessity of the improvement of the oversight mechanisms and the rise of public awareness.

Artur Atanesyan, YSU, Head of the Chair of Applied Sociology, Doctor of Political Sciences, talked about the social factors of transformation of the armed forces.

Philipp Fluri, Deputy Director of the Geneva Center for DCAF, noted with satisfaction that these parliamentary hearings had been the best result of the Memorandum signed between the Committee on Defense, National Security and Internal Affairs and the Geneva Center, and expressed hope that this cooperation would be continuous and effective with new initiatives. Philipp Fluri deemed an important tool the parliamentary oversight in strengthening the society-army relations, and the involvement of the NGOs as a necessary condition.

The speakers answered the participants’ questions.

Koryun Nahapetyan thanked for the interesting discussions and assured that all the proposals directed to the strengthening of army-society relationship would be taken into consideration while taking practical steps in this sphere, implementing parliamentary oversight, as well as making legislative reforms.

He informed the attendees that on April 16 at 9 a.m. the international seminar “Parliamentary Oversight of the Security Sector” will launch in the National Assembly. 

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