The independence day gives Armenian newspapers a perfect pretext to analyze and try to make sense of the past ten years. That the independence was a right choice is not questioned by any of them. But their assessment of the entire period and recipes for success differ markedly.
“Hayots Ashkhar” draws attention to the ouster of President Levon Ter-Petrossian in February 1998, viewing it as a turning point in the country’s post-Soviet history. It says Robert Kocharian’s rise to power put Armenia on the right path of development. The paper says it is now widely acknowledged that independent statehood requires a “powerful economic base” resulting from an industrial revival. Only then will independence become an “absolute value” and part of the day-to-day life of most ordinary Armenians.
An editorial in “Yerkir” makes a highly optimistic conclusion: “The Armenian people are entering the new millennium in a confident way and with a faith in the future.”
“Azg” focuses on the enormous difficulties that have marred what was supposed to become an era of freedom and prosperity. “The price we have paid for preserving our independence over the past decade has been appallingly high.” The socioeconomic hardships suffered by the vats majority of the population persist, corruption is still rampant, citizens are not equal before the law and the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has not been resolved. But the paper does see bright spots in the overall grim picture, saying that progress can be discerned by “those who wish to see it.”
This is not a nationwide holiday jointly celebrated by Armenia’s leaders and body politic, writes “Aravot.” The divide between them continues to deepen. “Many of us have stopped to consider this state ours. Many feel that this state belongs to its leaders only.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” editorializes that for all these negative phenomena September 21 is “the most glorious holiday in the history of Armenia.” It is the number one holiday for people with a strong civic consciousness who “will not tolerate an occupation regime” are striving to “transform this piece of land from a Russian base into a prosperous country at peace with its neighbors.”
A pessimistic “Iravunk” writes that Armenia has transformed into a “crime state” where rulers have distinguished themselves with a complete disregard for laws and needs of their citizens. Armenians probably will need another ten years to build a state based on the rule of law. “The losses are substantial. But so are the possibilities of recovery.” It will take a competent government and a “popular resistance to illegalities” to achieve that recovery, the paper concludes.