“Azg” reports that officials at the Armenian foreign ministry “live with the expectations of ambassadorial appointments” in diplomatic missions abroad. President Kocharian has still to fill several vacancies. The paper is very critical of the sacked and serving ambassadors as well as those who are likely to replace them. Armenia’s ambassador to Canada, Ara Papian, is singled out for his reportedly tense relations with some leaders of the country’s Armenian community.
“Aravot” continues its efforts to expose the wealth of top government officials amassed by dubious means. The paper carries a front-page picture of a villa in Spain which it says belongs to the chairman of the Armenian Central Bank, Tigran Sarkisian. Sarkisian’s official monthly salary is about $2,000, a fairly high income by Armenian standards. But not high enough to buy the expensive house. The paper thinks that the country’s chief banker used public funds to pay for it.
“Hayots Ashkhar” lambasts two close associates of former president Levon Ter-Petrossian for concluding in a report that the situation with media freedom in Armenia has deteriorated under the current authorities. The former head of state television, Tigran Hakobian, and Ter-Petrossian’s former press secretary, Levon Zurabian, believe that their government was less repressive towards to the media. “Forgetting the incomparably more large-scale intimidation and pressure during their rule, Hakobian and Zurabian not only paint a sinister picture of the absence of pluralism but also claim that journalists in Armenia falling victim to widespread violence, threats, blackmail and brutal government interference.”
“Yerkir” writes that the former ruling Armenian Pan-National Movement (HHSh) and its “satellites” rarely make critical remarks about Turkey and Azerbaijan, countries which “dream about Armenia’s extinction.” They instead target Kocharian and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun). The Dashnaktsutyun paper dismisses talk of a serious change in Kocharian’s foreign policy among some of the country’s former rulers. The latter have suggested, in particular, that Yerevan has recently softened its stance against Turkey. But “Yerkir” is confident that the authorities remain committed to Dashnaktsutyun’s anti-Turkish agenda.