Armenia may have advanced in the latest UN Human Development rankings but the 72nd place given to it by the UNDP survey is still too low, according to “Aravot.” “If our rulers disclosed their real incomes we would surpass Russia and Belarus on the income-per-capita basis and even find ourselves among the most developed nations of the world,” the paper notes sarcastically. The authorities, it says, have a vested interest in portraying Armenia as a poor country. That enables them to “continue to beg for money from abroad.”
Grigor Hayrapetian, the leader of the Dashnaktsutyun party’s Karabakh branch, criticizes the economic track record of the current administration in Stepanakert, in an interview with “Azg.” He says the Karabakh authorities want to instill in people the belief that “living in poverty in Karabakh is normal.” And yet the substantial aid they receive from Armenia each year could have been a serious stimulus for economic development if it was used properly. President Arkady Ghukasian, according to Hayrapetian, is replicating the heavy-handed leadership style of jailed General Samvel Babayan, his most hated enemy.
“Azg” comments that the September local elections in Karabakh could be essential for the outcome of next year’s presidential election. The polls will be an important test of Ghukasian’s popularity.
“Iravunk,” meanwhile, ponders on the political future of the Armenian president, Robert Kocharian, who it says increasingly finds himself in a “dangerous political solitude.” As the presidential elections of 2003 near, Kocharian has to make a final choice between the traditional Armenian and pro-Western political orientations. That will be decisive for his political career.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says the rift in the People’s Party of Armenia (HZhK) follows a familiar pattern with the question of whether or not to support the president and the government the main bone of contention. A HZhK splinter group led by parliament speaker Armen Khachatrian is now jumping on the presidential bandwagon against the will of the majority of party members. The rift is setting the stage for a change in the balance of forces in the Armenian parliament. By next fall the division line in the parliament will be between “clearly pro-presidential and clearly opposition” positions.
Senior members of the Republican Party (HHK) refrain from commenting on the turmoil in the HZhK, their partner in the Miasnutyun bloc. “They themselves must sort out their internal issues,” the HHK’s Tigran Torosian tells “Hayots Ashkhar.” “We will only observe how events unfold inside the HZhK. It is still early to draw conclusions.”
But as “Zhamanak” writes, a sweeping “re-distribution of forces” in the National Assembly is inevitable. Furthermore, the country’s entire political landscape is bound to undergo profound transformation with the HZhK likely to join the ranks of the “radical opposition.”