Where does the need for keeping a state secret end and where does public control over transparency of state actions begin? Public activists most often ask this question in connection with the news that the defence budget has been increased by 5.6 per cent, the article reads.
‘The sum of 150 billion drams, or around $400 million is the highest amount of annual military spending over the entire country’s history. However, one can only guess how exactly and effectively the Ministry will spend this extra money. Information of defence expenditure has long been considered a matter unavailable to the broader public,’ the article said.
The article’s author believes many Armenians want to know how their Government plans to use this money, which is much more limited compared to Azerbaijan’s.
“Following the suspension of the conflict with Azerbaijan whose military budget is a six fold increase against Armenia’s, there is the following question. How do they, the Armenian authorities spend our small budget?” asks Emma Umanyan, a member of public organisation Soldier & Law lobbying interests of military servicemen. “We usually never receive an answer, “she added.
Armenian Defence Minister Seiran Oganyan told Parliament that the extra funds will be spent for ‘an increase in the number of skilled personnel and purchase of new military hardware and arms’.
Any other information is considered as not available for broader discussion. The Control Chamber which is responsible for setting out the state budget performance, does, from time to time, makes irate statements about different agencies breaking the law, but never releases information of spending by the Defence Ministry. The results of the Ministry’s auditor checks last year were totally restricted.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. Armenian armed forces have occupied 20 per cent of Azerbaijan since 1992, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.
Azerbaijan and Armenia signed a ceasefire agreement in 1994. The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group – Russia, France and the U.S. are currently holding the peace negotiations.
Armenia has not yet implemented the U.N. Security Council’s four resolutions on the liberation of the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding regions.