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Press Review


“Hayots Ashkhar” claims that Armenians have become used to high-profile murders most of which are not solved by their law enforcement agencies. No wonder that they have not reacted to this month’s foiled attempt on the life of a parliament deputy and the killing of a businessman. The paper says the police and the prosecutor-general’s office are to blame for this phenomenon. Public indifference, it says, is a fertile ground for more such crimes.

Commenting on the row in the Armenian Apostolic Church, “Hayots Ashkhar” argues against any public interference in what it regards as a purely church affair. Some media outlets have already drawn “far-reaching conclusions” without clarifying all of its circumstances. “Hayots Ashkhar” believes that the local press must be cautious in its coverage of the dispute which it says should be resolved by the two Catholicosates. The Armenian government could help them do that by acting as an “impartial mediator.”

A government spokeswoman denies press reports that Agriculture Minister Zaven Gevorgian has resigned. Mary Harutiunian tells “Haykakan Zhamanak” that Gevorgian is currently on vacation. But the paper, citing other unnamed sources, insists that he is unlikely to return to work.

Rumors are also circulating about the imminent dismissal of Finance and Economy Minister Vartan Khachatrian. “Haykakan Zhamanak” says Khachatrian’s recent attacks on the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund seem to have proved “fateful” for his political future and his ouster is just a matter or time. But the criticism of the international lenders, voiced in unusually strong terms, will be used as a pretext for Khachatrian’s removal. President Kocharian has other motives. Kocharian, according to the paper, wants to have full control of public funds in the run-up to the 2003 presidential elections. For that purpose he plans to merge the government’s tax and customs agencies into the finance ministry. Khachatrian is not seen as fit to run the new “super-ministry.” His most likely successor is Artashes Tumanian, head of the presidential staff.

“Azg” comments that Turkey’s decision to soften the visa regime for Armenian citizens was a result of US pressure. It says the move does not make prospects for the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations any brighter. And the Turkish government no longer has any leverage against Armenia left in its arsenal.

(Vache Sarkisian)
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