“One should not look for any logic behind yet another reshuffle in the country’s government,” editorializes “Aravot.” Prime Minister Markarian has changed his chief taxman midway through the fiscal year. “Surely the reason for that is not economic. Nor does it result from concerns about the plight of the country. There can be two reasons, and, not matter how sad this may sound, both are equally credible.” First of all, the ministerial movements may be part of Robert Kocharian’s preparations for the presidential election of 2003. Or it could be that Markarian is changing his ministers just because he doesn’t like them.
“Azg” sees only political motives behind the move. It is obvious to the paper that the tax and customs departments operate more efficiently when they are part of the same government agency.
“It is the government that decides what is right and what is wrong,” Andranik Manukian, the former minister of state revenues and the newly appointed minister of transport and communications, explains to “Zhamanak.” “If the government thinks it right then it is right,” he says bluntly.
“Hayots Ashkhar” says the authorities still do not realize that the public opinion is set firmly against them. Government officials keep complaining that the people are “impatient” when they demand tangible improvements from the government. “But they forget that we have been living in anticipation of a free-market prosperity for tens years already. An ordinary person doesn’t care who promised it: Ter-Petrossian, Kocharian, Bagratian or Markarian.”
“Aravot” reports that Vahan Shirkhanian, a former influential cabinet member, is demanding an emergency meeting of the Yerkrapah board to counter the government’s “policy of discrediting Vazgen Sarkisian.” Shirkhanian says the alleged campaign of smear is conducted by “a regime which not only has failed and discredited itself in the past three years but has also wrecked the society.” “If the president of the republic hopes that he will draw dividends from smearing Vazgen and that October 27 will be forgotten then he is thoroughly mistaken,” he says.
“Azg” claims that the Minsk Group co-chairs are arriving in the region next week to “put additional pressure on Robert Kocharian.” The mediators will attempt to “scapegoat” Kocharian for the failure of the peace process by demanding that he agree to hand over the Shusha district in Karabakh to Azerbaijan. “This is not only unfair but also very dangerous. In the event of additional pressure Armenian statehood will show cracks.” For Karabakh is “more than a vital territory” for Armenians. It is the same as the independent Armenian statehood, the paper concludes.