The tenth anniversary of the creation of the Armenian armed forces, officially marked on Monday, draws commentary from the leading Yerevan papers. Their overall assessment of the state of the army is positive. But chronic problems facing the military are also highlighted.
“Iravunk” reminds the authorities of widespread illegal practices in some army detachments. It says the “unlimited corruption and sadistic behavior of a number of commanders” does not add to the army’s strength and prestige. The authorities’ disdain for the rule of law “threatens to become the grave-digger of ordinary people’s patriotic motives.”
“Aravot” carries on this occasion a front-page photograph of Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian, former interior minister Vano Siradeghian, and the late prime minister Vazgen Sarkisian with the following caption: “One of them became the victim of [October] 27, the other was prosecuted and fled Armenia, while the third’s authority today extends to all power and economic spheres.”
“Aravot” continues to attack last week’s tariff agreement between the government and ArmenTel. The paper says the Greek-owned operator “has forgotten its promise to lower charges for cellular phones and the Internet connection.” Nor has it digitalized all phone stations or improved the quality of mobile phone communication. The deal was therefore a “Pyrrhic victory” for the government, according to “Aravot.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” is also critical of the deal, saying ArmenTel will benefit from the it more than the government. The latter made serious concessions on OTE’s investments commitments. The paper is also worried that after the introduction of the per-minute charging of local phone calls phone users will not be protected against possible cheating by ArmenTel employees. There are no oversight mechanisms that would keep the company from inflating the duration of the phone calls. “ArmenTel will cheat if it wants.”
“Azg” makes the same point, saying that there are no guarantees against such arbitrary practices. The government officials negotiating with ArmenTel didn’t care about this “minutiae.” They were more preoccupied with issues related to their own well-being.
The newspaper “Hayastani Komunist” carries a statement by the Central Committee of the Armenian Communist Party. The statement repeats traditional Communist accusations against the authorities and demands their resignation. The Communists warn that the current leadership should quit or face the possibility of being “swept away” by a wave of popular protests.
“Azg” writes that the authorities’ staffing policy continues to be devoid of any logic. Ministerial posts are given to persons that have nothing to do with a particular sphere. A minister dismissed from his job may be re-appointed several months later. The public still does not know why.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that Hovik Abrahamian, the minister for local government, is against his possible transfer to the post of agriculture minister. This, according to the paper, should not surprise anyone as Abrahamian’s current post is “more influential.”