LEVON TER-PETROSYAN: EXPRESSIONS OF SOCIAL DISCONTENT HAVE SHARPENED SIGNIFICANTLY IN THE PERIOD AFTER THE 1 MARCH RALLY

ArmInfo
2009-05-01 17:10:00

ArmInfo. Expressions of social discontent particularly in the
ranks of taxi drivers, employees of open-air and retail markets
have sharpened significantly in the period after the 1 March rally,
the first president of Armenia, the leader of the Armenian National
Congress Levon Ter-Petrossyan said during an opposition rally today.

Soon they may be joined by the unemployed and employees, whose
salaries are paid from the state budget. These expressions are
so far spontaneous and unorganized, but if their problems are not
solved satisfactorily, they threaten to cause serious turmoil. The
authorities are myopically trying to suppress these expressions of
social discontent by intimidation and police operations, which is a
very dangerous and counterprouctive approach.

Meanwhile, it was their duty to do the exact opposite, i.e. instead
of strangling that discontent in its embryonic stage, hoping that it
will not spread; they should have made an effort to solve the problems
that have afflicted the owners of small and medium size businesses
and the salaried employees.

The state cannot wash its hands off the relations between the employers
and the employees, between holders and renters of property. It is
its duty to intervene actively and to monitor those relations.

One could object that the laws are sufficient for managing those
relations.

But the whole problem is that conflicts arise because of violations
of those laws, because of the arbitrariness of the officials, and
because of the all-consuming corruption. If the state refrains from
taking up that responsibility, tomorrow it will be done by unions,
which, as a result of the state's passivity will form, then gain in
strength, because there is no other way of protecting the workers'
interests. Taking into account the importance of this issue and the
imperative of avoiding social turmoil, the Armenian National Congress
is ready to extend consulting and legal support for the formation
of independent trade unions. We have declared many times that the
creation of civil society in Armenia is the main goal of the Congress,
and trade unions are one of the most important components of it.