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Press Review


The Armenian opposition has succeeded in foiling the government bill on civil service “in a simple and genius manner,” a jubilant “Haykakan Zhamanak” reports. Its passage was “badly needed” by Robert Kocharian. The parliament vote also revealed “rifts inside the HZhK” when some members of the party took the government’s side. This was not the first time that HZhK activists with government connections defy Stepan Demirchian’s orders.

“The National Assembly minority has proved that it has to be reckoned with,” writes “Azg.” “The parliamentary minority has revenged itself on the majority, retaliating the killing of numerous [pro-opposition] bills by the latter.”

“Yerkir” deplores the defeat of the legislation, blaming it on parochial interests of the HZhK and anti-Kocharian parties. The law is essential for putting the brakes on endless “haggling” between parliament factions and the government over lucrative jobs in the executive, the paper says. Those who blocked it did so with a view towards the next presidential and parliamentary elections. Those are exactly the same forces which scored points in previous elections on promises of a sweeping reform of the civil service.

“Aravot” directs accusations of hypocrisy at the opposite side, targeting the National Democratic Union (AZhM), Dashnaktsutyun and Orinats Yerkir parties for their pro-government stance on the issue. The paper says the three parties thereby demonstrated that they can easily betray their “principles.” They are all fond of complaining that former president Levon Ter-Petrossian enacted the current constitution in 1995 to tighten his grip on power but are now reluctant to admit that his successor has not relinquished any of those powers and is on the contrary attempting to get new ones.

Meanwhile, the pro-presidential “Hayots Ashkhar” urges Kocharian to “immediately” dissolve the parliament, which it describes as a “serious hurdle to progress in the country.” The parliament is accused of championing interests of “oligarchic and clan networks” which the paper says stand in the way of important structural reforms. “Without passage of the law on civil service it is impossible to put our political landscape in order because the clan system will finally extend its dominance of the economy and the state apparatus to this area.”

“Zhamanak” wonders why the opposition is unimpressed by the amended version of another controversial government bill regulating demonstrations and other public gatherings. The paper says the bill has undergone serious improvements. The opposition does not want to see them because it is only concerned with hurting the government.

Vahan Papazian, Armenia’s foreign minister from 1992-96, believes that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict would have long been resolved had Ter-Petrossian stayed in power. The best opportunity for peace was lost in 1997 when the Armenian side rejected two proposals put forward by the OSCE’s Minsk Group, Papazian tells “Aravot.” Papazian strongly disagrees with the mediators’ argument that most Armenians and Azerbaijanis oppose a compromise settlement. “The publics have long been prepared for peace,” he says.

(Vache Sarkisian)
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