Robert Kocharian keeps saying that political stability is vital for economic development in Armenia and “Aravot” presents its view on what the president means by “stability.” “It may seem that the president can not dream of greater stability than he has now. Armenia does not have and, in the near future, will not have a serious and influential opposition which could threaten the government’s positions. The majority of political forces enthusiastically serve Kocharian; the parliament passes laws which he likes; and most businessmen are devoted to him with their spirit, body and, most important, money. Yet President Kocharian wants the kind of stability which is in place in China or Turkmenistan. A stability that rules out existence of any political opposition, free media getting on the authorities’ nerves and democratic institutions.”
“Azg” rebukes opposition parties that allege links between the authorities and terrorism. The exploiting of the October 27 case is now getting “dangerous.”
Another “Azg” commentary is less sympathetic to the government, which is criticized for not addressing opposition concerns about certain controversial provisions of the draft law on civil service. The functions of the would-be state Council on Civil Service have not yet been clearly defined, which is fueling opposition worries about the independence of the state bureaucracy – the main declared objective of the proposed legislation. As things stand now, the paper says, the government is unlikely to push the bill through the National Assembly.
But “Haykakan Zhamanak” makes a diametrically opposite prognosis. It says the parliament factions strongly opposed to the bill, the HZhK, the Communists and the Right and Accord bloc, can not block its passage. The majority of deputies will no doubt vote for the initiative, knowing well that it is “unconstitutional.”
The pro-Kocharian “Hayots Ashkhar” admits that the draft law and the Armenian constitution do have “some contradictions.” Nevertheless, its speedy adoption and coming into force is essential for the success of “systemic reforms” in the government system. Its opponents have failed to suggest any alternatives. In fact, they don’t want any. The HZhK leadership, in particular, is not interested in the reform because many of its activists holding government posts or doing business would not need to be affiliated with that party to protect their interests.
“Zhamanak” reports that the Miasnutyun majority in the parliament is unlikely to formulate a common position on the issue. This could result in a “final collapse” of the bloc and set the stage for a major reshuffle in the parliament.
“Yerkir” says the Armenian Pan-National Movement (HHSh) and several small parties that had split from the former ruling party consider joining forces to prepare for the next parliamentary elections in 2003. The unresolved Karabakh conflict and its negative impact on the Armenian economy will be the central theme of their propaganda campaign. But the paper, which is controlled by the nationalist Dashnaktsutyun party, sees little connection between the Karabakh issue and economic development. It says the root cause of the country’s economic woes lies is the fact that “the government system is isolated from the people.” A system which gives the president “unlimited power” but no responsibility for the state of affairs. And it is the HHSh that had created this deeply flawed order.