By Hrach Melkumian
Most Armenian papers are still in their summer vacation. However, “Aravot” and “Haykakan Zhamanak” continue to be published.
According to “Haykakan Zhamanak”, an unpleasant atmosphere is emerging around the upcoming visit of Russian President Vladimir Putin to Armenia. The paper quotes unnamed observers who believe that Putin’s trip could be even canceled and instead defense minister Sergei Ivanov might visit Armenia. “Haykakan Zhamanak” argues that the main purpose of Putin’s trip is the signing of a package of economic agreements which in essence is nothing more than an exchange of Armenia’s debt to Moscow with full or partial Russian ownership of Armenian enterprises. But the problem is that the World Bank opposes this plan. Therefore, once again Armenia finds itself in an uncomfortable situation: risk relations either with Russia or with its main western donor. If Yerevan chooses to follow the World Bank’s advice, Putin’s trip will become meaningless, the paper concludes.
“Aravot” writes that “ The president’s pink glasses do not allow him to see real life as it is”. The paper commenting on President Robert Kocharian’s remarks during his visit to a clothing factory on Wednesday says that the president after touching a few pieces of clothing made for people of fine taste, commented that he disagrees with the World Bank. The latter’s representative had recently voiced surprise that poverty does not decline in a country which shows economic growth. “Aravot” writes that the president’s remarks should be attributed either to his “pink glasses” or he is not informed about the fact that figures written on paper are a far cry from reality.
According to “Golos Armenii” the National Statistics Service has concluded that as of August 1 Armenia has enjoyed an annual %8.7 growth in industrial producion. Mining production has increased by %30 while machinery and electrical tools production has jumped by %75. The paper comments that people justifiably wonder that official statistics show economic growth while there are no visible social benefits for them. The paper quotes facts and figures from UNICEF. In the Gegharkunik province %31 of children suffer from consistent malnutrition. Their main diet consists of bread and potatoes. Nationally, that figure is %14.
Former Prime Minister Aram Sarkissian who is one of the leaders of the “Hanrapetutyun” party tells “Haykakan Zhamanak” that opposition forces have reached all the necessary agreements for bringing about a leadership change in Armenia. His party together with “The National Accord Front” of Ashot Manucharian, “The National Unity Party” and “The People’s Party of Armenia” have already begun joint activities in the regions.
Vladimir Darbinina, the First Secretary of Armenia’s Communist Party in an interview with the same paper says, “ We agree with the notion of Kocharian’s resignation through constitutional means and we will call for early presidential and parliamentary elections.” However, according to Mr. Darbinian, cooperation with the opposition block depends on a number of conditions the most important of which is the issue of Armenia joining the Russia-Belarus Union Treaty.
The “Hanrapetutyun” party however, according to Suren Sureniants a member of its political council, cannot be a proponent of joining the Russia-Belarus Union, although it believes that this is a choice to be made by the people through a referendum. Mr. Sureniants adds that such a referendum will be possible only after a change of regime in Armenia.