On March 16, pursuant to Paragraph 2 of Article 120 of the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia and Article 48 of the Constitutional Law of the Rules of Procedure of the National Assembly, a special sitting of the National Assembly was convened by force of law, having on the agenda the decision on declaring a state of emergency in the Republic of Armenia.
The RA Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan noted that the Government made a decision today from 6:30 pm, to establish state of emergency regarding the coronavirus pandemic in the republic. The Prime Minister has noted that there are currently 30 confirmed coronavirus cases in our country, of which 19 refer to the engagement ceremony in Echmiadzin and 3 out of them - to the first diagnosed case. According to the Prime Minister, the yesterday’s cases in one of Yerevan's production enterprises are concerning. Nikol Pashinyan has informed the MPs that the framework of contact of the people diagnosed with these cases is being clarified and those people will also be isolated.
The Head of government clarified the necessity to introduce a state of emergency, noting that as a result of the study of the RA legislation on assistance to the population in state of emergency it became evident that it did not envisage epidemic situations.
“A state of emergency is possible when there is an immediate threat to the constitutional order. In the given case, the immediate threat was assessed that the concept of the social state is under threat when the citizens have the right to health, health, and it may in fact be in an absolutely unprotected situation. The state must take extraordinary measures to secure that right,” Nikol Pashinyan documented.
It was noted that for the measures envisaged by the decision on ensuring public health and introducing the state of emergency, a Commandant’s Office was created. The Deputy Prime Minister Tigran Avinyan was appointed Commandant by the government's decision.
According to the Prime Minister, at that moment the situation can be considered manageable.
The head of the government also spoke about food security issues in the country. He has underlined that there are sufficient food reserves in the republic, and there is no food shortage.
Touching upon the restrictions conditioned by the state of emergency, the Prime Minister talked about public assemblies, noting that the strictest restrictions refer exclusively to the dissemination of information related to coronavirus developments: they must correspond with official information.
To Nikol Pashinyan’s conviction, the strategic approach of the government is that we should come out of this crisis more strongly in economic, public and health terms.
“The Government of Armenia and the Commandment’s Office will refrain from any restrictions that do not stem from the situation. We will do our utmost to ensure that the state of emergency, which should last until April 14, at 5 pm, is justified and effective in preventing the spread of coronavirus,” the Prime Minister of the country assured.
The Prime Minister were addressed questions related to the activities of the Commandment’s Office, particularly the Commandant, the delivery of tests for coronavirus diagnosis, the economic situation caused by the state of emergency, and the steps taken stemming from it. The MPs also touched upon the citizens who do not go to work due to the prevention of the spread of coronavirus and especially the cases when many private companies refused to pay their salaries. The MPs' questions did include the issues of economic assistance to the citizens, the emphases to the bank loan holidays, and the citizens’ loan commitments. The Head of the executive body were addressed questions about the sharp rise in the prices of some goods, the possibilities of health care system, the suspension established for the educational institutions and the organization of the educational process.
Speaking on behalf of the RA NA Standing Committee on Protection of Human Rights and Public Affairs, Naira Zohrabyan referred to the necessity of mechanisms for restraining the rise of prices of some products, the problem of masks and the lack of disinfectants. According to the Committee Chair, the state is obliged urgently discuss with the banks the issues related to the fulfillment of the citizens' loan commitments and the programmes for the support of small and medium business.
The Chair of the RA NA Standing Committee on Economic Affairs Babken Tunyan addressed the citizens, assuring that they collected the problems in all spheres and discussed them one by one. Babken Tunyan noted that no citizens would be left alone with their problems. Speaking about the raised questions about inflation, the MP has stated that it is not considered so much inflation. The Committee Chair, however, urged the State Commission for the Protection of the Economic Competition (SCPEC) to study the created situation.
The Chair of the NA Standing Committee on Financial-Credit and Budgetary Affairs Mane Tandilyan has documented that today there is no threat to the financial stability of Armenia, as the banks have more than enough means to ensure financial liquidity and to provide uninterrupted customers’ service.
According to the Deputy Chair of the NA Standing Committee on Science, Education, Culture, Diaspora, Youth and Sport Hovhannes Hovhannisyan, every crisis is an opportunity that we can make use of it. In the MP’s word, we should help the Government to overcome the created situation as soon as possible. He advised the pupils to use time effectively and create new online platforms.
On behalf of the RA NA Standing Committee on Foreign Relations, the NA Deputy Speaker Alen Simonyan has once again reminded that there is no shortage of food products, medicine and medical equipment in our country. He has emphasized that the grocery shops and pharmacies will not be closed, and no curfew was announced in Armenia. The Commandant may if necessary, make a decision to impose additional restrictions. It has been noted that the media and the individuals have no right to disseminate information that is incompatible and does not coincide with official information. Touching upon the holding of the referendum, the NA Deputy Speaker has said that the referendum is canceled and will be appointed within 55-60 days after the end of the state of emergency. He has spoken about the transparency of the authorities' work in recent days, which has increased the citizens’ trust towards the authorities.
Edmon Marukyan informed about the position of the RA NA Bright Armenia Faction on the special sitting. The MP documented that distinct clarifications, nevertheless, were not given. Regarding the works of the newly formed Commandant’s Office, he underscored that it should work operative, and make all decisions quickly, because uncertainties could cause panic. In the fight against the pandemic the Head of the Faction highlighted the importance of consolidation and being provided with coercive levers by the state for every situation.
Mikayel Melkumyan made a speech on behalf of the RA NA Prosperous Armenia Faction. He emphasized the importance of ensuring the health of the population, talked about the economic consequences, the problems of predictability and subsidization of the Government and food security. The MP deemed important the organization of universal mobilization.
The Head of the RA NA My Step Faction Lilit Makunts expressed gratitude to all the medical workers, the police officers, the representatives of the law enforcement agencies for their caring and painstaking work. The Head of the Faction presented the activities aimed at the prevention of coronavirus, the measures taken before and after the detection of a person diagnosed in our country. As for the citizens' loan commitments, he informed that the Central Bank launched the Hot Line. All citizens with loan commitments can apply and individual approach will be shown towards them. Lilit Makunts noted that My Step Faction had no objections to any emergency measures.
After the factions, the NA Speaker gave an extraordinary speech. Ararat Mirzoyan touched upon several procedural issues that concern parliament first. The NA Speaker has affirmed that the state of emergency declared in the country will not affect the current activities of the legislative body in any way. Ararat Mirzoyan has noted in his speech that none of the parliamentary factions presented a draft law on the state of emergency or any of the measures envisaged in the special sitting, which indicates that all factions actually support the government's initiative to establish a state of emergency. In the joint fight against the pandemic, the Head of the Parliament stressed the love, humanity and tolerance towards each other.
In his concluding remarks, the RA Prime Minister has informed that today the number of cases has increased by 15, which shows that the state of emergency is an adequate response to the situation. Nikol Pashinyan did not consider it right to completely stop the work process in the country. In the case of current crisis, the Prime Minister called for preserving calmness and common sense. Nikol Pashinyan wished health to all patients.NA Speaker Ararat Mirzoyan has informed that the agenda of the NA special sitting is covered.