One of the most unpleasant experiences an Armenian journalist can have is to talk to government officials in charge of fighting against corruption, writes “Hayots Ashkhar.” “They unanimously admit the existence of corruption, stun you with harrowing figures and facts and prove that the scale of our corruption oversteps all possible boundaries. They then complain that we have a ‘weak legislative base’.” Nobody knows why it is weak, just as nobody sees any concrete results of the government’s declared clampdown on graft.
The vast majority of people seeking to work for government are motivated by the prospect of quickly becoming better off through illegal means, the deputy speaker of the Armenian parliament, Tigran Torosian, tells “Hayots Ashkhar.” This sad reality makes reform of the civil service imperative. “An official must earn enough to be able to ensure a decent life for his family,” Torosian says. Civil servants should also enjoy social benefits such as free housing and health care.
The de facto demise of the Miasnutyun bloc is another event making headlines in Wednesday’s Armenian papers. The leader of the People’s Party of Armenia (HZhK), Stepan Demirchian, attacks the authorities in an interview with “Aravot.” “Robert Kocharian has flouted the constitution a lot, but we will act within the constitutional framework,” he says. “It is evident that the country needs changes.”
The parliamentary leader of the other Miasnutyun party, the HHK’s Galust Sahakian, is unhappy with the “tough” anti-government tactics of the Armenian opposition. “Those forces that had campaigned for the current president and had directly contributed to Robert Kocharian’s election as president are now doing the opposite,” he says.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says the number of opposition parties keen to join the HZhK and the Hanrapetutyun party steadily increases. So does the danger of the latter’s “political collapse.” The HZhK and Hanrapetutyun fear that some of those parties will play the “role of a Trojan horse.” Hence, the persisting rumors that Artashes Geghamian, leader of the Right and Accord bloc, was assigned by Kocharian to cause a split in the opposition camp. In a bid to disprove those rumors, Geghamian will next week make a statement detailing why and how Kocharian should be removed from office.
“One can not continue like this anymore,” writes “Yerkir.” “The heaviest legacy of the former regime – corruption and favoritism – has not been overcome.” The paper calls for the ouster of all those government officials that have a “Communist or HHSh past.” It will take “new people” to clean up the government.