Armenian Civil Service ‘Still Under Patronage Pressure’

September 07, 2011
YEREVAN -- An Armenian monitoring agency says ministers and other top government officials continue to lobby for appointments and other jobs for people connected to them or their political parties, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.
Manvel Badalian, chairman of the State Council on Civil Service, made the statement on September 6 while saying that he had resisted such pressure, adding that job selection procedures administered by his body are fair and objective.
"I am the head of an independent body," Badalian said. "My position is not lower than that of a government member. I reject and continue to reject official pressure [to give in to nepotism]."
He said the most pressure for jobs comes from friends, neighbors, relatives, and classmates.
A law adopted in 2002 mandates the selection of ministry personnel and other civil servants on a competitive basis that takes into account their qualifications rather than political views or affiliations.
Badalian's council, which was formed by Armenia's president, is tasked with holding job selection procedures, evaluating civil servants' performances, and protecting them against arbitrary dismissal.
"Recently we had an unpleasant case -- unfortunately such cases are not rare -- where representatives of a particular ministry made every effort to make one candidate pass the tests because that's what was instructed by their minister or a regional governor," Badalian said. He did not name the officials.
Badalian added that civil servants are still often forced to join one of Armenia's three governing parties or do so in order to please their bosses who are affiliated with those parties.
"When there are competitions for vacant posts, as a rule, we see among the candidates members of a party with which the head of that agency is affiliated," he said.
The official voiced such complaints at a May 2010 meeting of Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian's cabinet. "Our parties seem to be becoming employment centers," he said then.
Representatives of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia and its two junior coalition partners -- Orinats Yerkir and Prosperous Armenia -- denied any involvement in the alleged practice at the time.
Badalian also urged civil servants not to tender resignations and thus forego legal protection after disputes with their superiors keen to get rid of them.
He said such instances are a regular occurrence in Armenia. "There is nothing we can do in these cases," he added.