“Haykakan Zhamanak” claims, citing witness accounts, that when Robert Kocharian went hunting in the southern Vayots Dzor province with a group of top officials last month he asked Minister of Local Government Hovik Abrahamian: “How much will you give if I appoint you prime minister?” “I’ll give everything I have,” a transfixed Abrahamian replied. But when the minister began listing what he has, Kocharian abruptly changed the subject of the conversation. “It is obvious that Kocharian joked,” the paper comments. “Prime ministerial appointments are not discussed in the presence of so many people. But it is also obvious that what happened was so indicative of our reality that Hovik Abrahamian, who does not lack a sense of humor, took the offer seriously.”
“Iravunk” predicts that vote irregularities such as violence and ballot box stuffing are unlikely to be widespread during the next elections. The authorities will fear negative reaction from the Council of Europe and other Western organizations. They will instead try to secure a desired outcome with money. It will be spent on the buying of votes and electoral commission seats as well as on the propaganda. So the next elections will be a “race of financial resources.” “The current ruling clans wield substantial material resources and administrative levers,” the paper says. But they are still not as rich as the former authorities were. Hence, their efforts to control all lucrative sectors of the Armenian economy. The government is therefore not interested in improving the investment climate in the country, according to “Iravunk.”
But as “Zhamanak” argues, the fact that the government’s draft budget for next year calls for a considerable rise in state revenues testifies to its resolve to rein in the informal sector of the economy.
Not quite so, writes “Azg.” The paper says the Andranik Markarian’s cabinet lacks a clear strategy of cracking down on the shadow economy. The ministers and leaders of Markarian’s Republican Party (HHK) are only making “irresponsible statements.”
A senior member of the former ruling Armenian Pan-National Movement (HHSh) tells “Iravunk” that the current authorities have failed to honor their pledge not to repeat the excesses of their predecessors. In the words of Aram Manukian, the Kocharian administration has “copied and multiplied bad things” done by the HHSh regime.
“Yerkir” renews attacks on the Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission and reiterates its position that the Turkish government is not serious about healing the Armenian wounds. It says Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian’s latest offer of dialogue with Ankara, voiced at a session of the UN General Assembly, was rejected by a Turkish representative.