“Zhamanak” thinks that the opposition forces in Armenia will not opt for “extreme” forms of political action this year, mindful of how fruitless their demonstrations and other street gatherings were in 2001. But this does mean that the authorities are going to lack serious challenges. The toughest of them, according to the paper, is the fight against the shadow economy and a successful completion of the parliament shootings trial.
“Aravot” praises the World Bank representative in Armenia, Owaise Saadat, for his remark that the bank “is not a taxpayer for Armenia.” The paper hopes that Saadat’s reminder will make Armenians and their rulers “sober up.” The government, it says, has always blamed its fiscal crises on delays in external borrowing, trying to disguise its poor tax collection record.
“Iravunk” expects a sweeping reshuffle in the government. Its says Robert Kocharian intends to form “an iron team which will be used for pre-election purposes.” The latest creation of a council overseeing the national civil service is meant to ensure the state bureaucracy’s loyalty to the regime. The paper also claims that Kocharian is set to move against the independent media in an effort to rule out any harsh criticism of his reelection plans.
“Hayots Ashkhar” says that the Minsk Group of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe will soon mark the tenth anniversary of its creation with little cause for celebration. But this year will be “fateful” for the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process. The mediators realize that if a peace deal is not signed this year the settlement will be impossible to achieve in 2003 because of elections in both Armenia and Azerbaijan. They will therefore attempt to “impose quick solutions” on the parties in the months ahead. The United States will be at the forefront of what the paper expects to be a new diplomatic push.