ArmInfo.The logic of the current system of administrative- territorial division of Armenia should be revised in order to ensure the efficiency of the functioning of local self-government bodies.
This opinion was expressed by Deputy Minister of Territorial Development and Infrastructures Vache Terteryan on September 22 at the parliamentary hearings on the enlargement of the republic's communities, initiated by the Standing Parliamentary Commission on Territorial Administration, Local Self-Government, Agriculture and Environmental Protection of the National Assembly. The Deputy Minister stressed that the situation in which the current system of local self-government was formed in Armenia back in 1996 (about 931 communities - ed.) Was completely different - it corresponded to that time and the existing economic system. New conditions and new challenges, as Terteryan pointed out, require a revision of the existing mechanism.
The process, which started especially actively since 2016 (as a result of the unification of 486 communities, 54 enlarged communities were created - ed.), According to him, will lead to the decentralization of communities, and the opportunities for economic development of communities will increase. They will participate more effectively in the government's subvention programs, which was practically impossible in the case of small communities; the problem of the lack of specialists in the villages will be solved. However, in response to the request of the director of the Mkhitar Sebastatsi school, Ashot Bleyan, Vache Terteryan could not point to a successful example of a pilot project implemented in an already enlarged community. To recall, on September 8, the government approved a package of amendments to the law "On the administrative-territorial division of the Republic of Armenia" and "On local self-government", according to which, as a result of the unification of 441 communities in Armenia, there will be 37 communities. The remaining 404 communities will have the status of a settlement, where instead of the head of the community, there will be an administrative representative, and the head and the Council of Elders of the enlarged community will manage the budget.
According to the decision of the Cabinet, the following enlarged communities will be created: Aragatsotn region: Ashtarak - 37 communities, Aparan - 2 communities, Talin - 29 communities, Metsatsor - 2 communities, Arevut - 6 communities; Ararat region: Artashat - 38 communities, Ararat - 12 communities, Masis - 27 communities, Vedi - 17 communities; Armavir region: Armavir - 11 communities, Vagharshapat - 2 communities, Metsamor - 31 communities, Baghramyan - 14 communities, Araks - 13 communities, Khoy - 17 communities and Parakar - 8 communities; Gegharkunik region: Gavar - 12 communities, Martuni - 17 communities, Sevan - 11 communities, Vardenis - 15 communities; Lori region: Vanadzor - 4 communities, Tumanyan - 3 communities, Spitak - 21 communities, Pambak - 15 communities; Kotayk region: Hrazdan - 5 communities, Abovyan - 11 communities, Nairi - 12 communities, Tsaghkadzor - 2 communities, Garni - 6 communities; Shirak region: Artik - 24 communities, Akhuryan - 12 communities, Amasia- 2 communities, Ashotsk - 2 communities; Vayots Dzor region: Yeghegnadzor - 3 communities, Vayk - 2 communities, Jermuk - 2 communities; Tavush region: Noyemberyan - 3 communities.
After the completion of the entire process, there will be 77 enlarged communities in Armenia, not counting Yerevan.
As Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan stated at the government session, the initiative is important not only from the point of view of carrying out administrative-territorial reforms, but also within the framework of the logic of political changes. Thus, according to the project, oppositionists will also be represented in the councils of elders of the enlarged communities in accordance with the votes received at the elections. And Armenian Minister of Economy Vahan Kerobyan stressed that as a result of this process, the resources of the enlarged communities will be consolidated, thereby increasing their ability to attract investments. At the same time, Pashinyan touched upon the possible dissatisfaction of citizens with the upcoming changes, saying that there is a decision of the Constitutional Court that holding a local referendum on this issue is unconstitutional and consolidation as a political process will be decided only in the sphere of the National Assembly. The political decision has already been made, the prime minister said.
Meanwhile, people in the unified villages are dissatisfied. They cite the example of communities that were enlarged back in 2016-2017, noting that they did not receive any benefit from this. On September 16, residents of the Geghamasar community of Gegharkunik region blocked the Sotk-Vardenis road, opposing the enlargement of the communities. To note, if this draft is adopted by the National Assembly, in all 37 newly formed communities, even if the term of office of the head of the community has not expired, elections to the Council of Elders will be held in the near future according to party lists. The candidate for the party with the highest number of votes will lead the community. Moreover, among the enlarging communities there are those that have already been enlarged in the past, this time new communities will be added to them.