There has been no single case of redistribution of property in the past 18 months, and this is the principle of the government, Nikol Pashinyan said during the business forum in Aragatsotn.
The right to ownership is what underlies the state and the human rights, and any encroachment upon the right to ownership could implode a state.
After the revolution in Armenia different circles made calls for seizing stolen property from former officials. Calls and threats were made but no mechanisms were offered. Many people confessed that the mechanism is expropriation or cancellation of the acts of recognition of property enacted by the former governments.
The new government did not go for expropriation. Pashinyan has recently stated that there was a big temptation to take this path. He gave the example of the wealth of a high-ranking official which belongs to an ordinary woman on paper. Everyone knows that this property is owned by that official, he said. “And one is tempted to tell the NSS to bring that woman and tell her to donate this property to the state and have it verified by a notary. From a political point of view this may even be justified but we press our teeth to put it so, we know that this is not the right thing to do because even if you are taking away a fake ownership, everyone will think the same is going to happen to them one day,” Nikol Pashinyan said.
This is a very important statement and is evidence that the new government respects the right and is ready to follow the path of law. Opponents may perceive this as a sign of weakness, saying that the government is not able to return the stolen property. They may even say the purpose of the revolution was not to allow the former ones to enjoy what they had stolen.
Moreover, there are groups that have a fundamental approach. Some proceed from the intention of restoring justice, others crave for revenge, yet others think that a revolution supposes a redistribution of property.
However, as Nikol Pashinyan says, the temptation is big but either you respect or deny the right to ownership. The government has chosen the first option.
Can one insist that Nikol Pashinyan thereby declares the second post-revolutionary phase? Because the agenda of the first post-revolutionary phase was based on the campaign for “redistribution of property” and expropriation of stolen property.
Pashinyan’s statement that there were no cases of redistribution of property is evidence that the information campaign may shift to a legal process. In particular, the point is about the adoption of the legal package on checking the origin of the wealth of officials and judges and expropriation of unlawful property.
The legal mechanisms are much more effective than expropriation. However, the acknowledgement of the indefeasibility of the right to ownership and the overcoming of the temptation to expropriate may eventually promote a real economic agenda aimed at building the future not redesigning the past.