Tigran Torosian, deputy speaker of the Armenian parliament and a close associate of Prime Minister Markarian, believes that economic reforms can not produce the desired outcome without a genuine reform of Armenia’s political system and civil service, “Aravot” reports. Torosian says it will take “radical steps” to put Armenia “on the path of economic development.”
The newspaper of Torosian’s Republican Party, “Zhamanak,” predicts that December will be a politically tense month in Yerevan. The paper says the parliament debates on constitutional amendments proposed by President Kocharian and the government’s draft budget will spark fierce political battles. The budget will eventually be passed. But its discussion in the National Assembly will be an opportunity for the opposition to put the government on the defensive. Kocharian and the cabinet will come out well of the attack if they keep their promise to create 40,000 new jobs this year.
National Unity leader Artashes Geghamian already accuses them of backtracking on the pledge. Papers quote him as telling supporters in Yerevan on Thursday that they should not trust official statistics showing a robust economic growth in the first nine months of the year. If the GDP growth really hit 9.9 percent, Geghamian said, it should have resulted in a corresponding rise in the government’s tax. But that has not been the case.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says the future of National Unity’s alliance with two other major opposition parties remains uncertain. Geghamian made on Thursday a remark that could further alienate his disgruntled allies, the People’s Party (HZhK) and Hanrapetutyun. “We have said all along that the socioeconomic program adopted by the Miasnutyun bloc leads to deadlock,” Geghamian said. The HZhK and Hanrapetutyun are bound to strongly disagree with this assertion.
According to “Hayots Ashkhar,” the opposition troika can make significant gains if it puts forward a single charismatic leader. But as things stand now, this is unlikely to happen. As a result, the three parties will continue to be manipulated by other opposition forces longing for power. This first of all applies to former president Levon Ter-Petrossian and center-right parties supporting him. They are keen to capitalize on the troika’s popularity and return to power.
“Iravunk” says it is easy to understand why the country’s former leaders, and not the three opposition parties, are the main target of the state propaganda machine. The authorities are well aware that the former regime remains highly unpopular and can discredit anybody cooperating with it. The paper also laments the politicization of the investigation into the 1999 parliament shootings. “Since November 1999, the October 27 case has been turned into a tool for blackmail, which is used by the anti-Kocharian and pro-Kocharian camps.”
“Iravunk” quotes a leading member of the Dashnaktsutyun party as strongly criticizing the current authorities in Nagorno-Karabakh for obstructing the unrecognized republic’s democratization. Kim Balayan believes that creation of a “civil society” in Karabakh would solidify Armenian gains in the conflict with Azerbaijan. But the Stepanakert government is “very far from” pursuing that goal, Balayan says. He also thinks that Armenia should closely oversee the use of its annual subsidies by the Karabakh government. Balayan doubts that the money is being used effectively by the administration of Arkady Ghukasian.