“Aravot” comments that Thursday’s agreement between the Armenian government and ArmenTel operator is not as beneficial for Armenia as Justice Minister David Harutiunian has portrayed. The two sides have struck a controversial deal only on one of several contentious issues, which is why their talks should not be deemed successful.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” is even more critical of the government’s handling of the telecom dispute. “The fact is that the government has failed to fulfill its numerous promises to prevent the enforcement of per-minute billing.” Harutiunian has simply “signed its defeat,” the paper claims.
“Azg” also thinks that the tariff agreement is not a solution to the broader “ArmenTel problem,” which remains a long way off. The paper says that whatever the merits of the agreement cited by government officials, it will be heavily exploited by the opposition.
Citing a senior member of the opposition People’s Party of Armenia (HZhK), “Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that three more deputies have signed an opposition petition demanding impeachment proceedings against Robert Kocharian. The opposition now claims to have 44 signatures, enough to force a debate on the parliament floor.
But one of its activists cautions in an “Iravunk” interview that the pro-government majority in the National Assembly can disrupt such a debate by preventing a quorum. Artak Zeynalian of the Hanrapetutyun party says the opposition will wait until a “favorable moment” to put the issue on the parliament agenda. Kocharian’s resignation is “extremely important” for Armenia, he says.
“Iravunk” comments that there are two things that can disrupt Kocharian’s “quiet life.” Those are the impending rise in telephone charges and the “constitutional movement” launched by the opposition this week. The paper predicts that Kocharian will most probably postpone the constitutional referendum until the next presidential elections because the possible defeat of his amendments would harm his chances of reelection in 2003. An attempt to falsify the vote would cause a domestic and international outcry.
“Hayots Ashkhar” is concerned that political tensions over how to reform Armenia’s constitution might eventually “discredit” the basic law. It says the six opposition parties are challenging Kocharian as part of their preparations for the 2003 elections. If they are really concerned with constitutional reform they should cooperate with the president instead of pushing forward a bill which they know will be rejected by the parliament. For their part, Kocharian and his loyal parliamentarians should be more cooperative and accept some opposition proposals.
“Zhamanak,” which is published once a week starting this year, carries an editorial on the tenth anniversary of the creation of the Armenian armed forces. The paper says that for all its shortcomings, the army is one of Armenia’s biggest assets and the main guarantor of its independence. “There is more faith in the future of our people in the military than in our society as a whole. Stability of the state is the result of [the army’s] incessant and effective functioning,” “Zhamanak” concludes.