(Saturday, August 23)
“Hayots Ashkhar” carries an interview with Communist Party leader Ruben Tovmasian on the occasion of the 13the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence adopted by Armenia’s first non-Communist legislature. “I can not even compare the successes of Soviet Armenia with the achievements of the independence period because there are no such [achievements] ,” Tovmasian says. “Even our victories in the Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) freedom fight were made possible by the potential accumulated during the Soviet period and the spirit and thinking power of students brought up in Soviet schools. I just don’t see what new positive values and contributions the 13 years of independence have brought to our people. What I see is that the nation is emigrating and the country is plundered and is becoming even more dependent [than in the Soviet times] day by day.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that Armenia’s controversial minister of culture, Tamara Poghosian, rebutted mounting accusations of incompetence during a visit to Gyumri on Friday. “I won’t fail, if I don’t work alone. Even if we fail, I won’t be the only one to have failed,” she told local officials in a blunt way that has become the hallmark of her discourse. “We would fail together.” The paper reveals gleefully that in her 45-minute speech Poghosian repeatedly spoke of “the province of Gyumri,” apparently forgetting the region’s name: Shirak.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” also says that leaders of the Dashnaktsutyun and Republican parties are increasingly incensed by the behavior of parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian, who heads the third coalition party, Orinats Yerkir. “The reason for that is that Baghdasarian claims credit for decisions made by the coalition.” Baghdasarian, for example, told residents of the Gegharkunik region last week that he will set up an ad hoc parliament committee that will look into ways of compensating holders of Soviet-era bank accounts. He presented himself as the author of the initiative. But in fact, it was agreed by the entire coalition. Also, government officials say that Prime Minister Andranik Markarian personally suspended the privatization of public hospitals several says before Baghdasarian called for a halt to the process.
“Aravot,” meanwhile, ridicules Baghdasarian’s Friday statement saying that Armenia is committed to meeting Council of Europe standards and deepening its European integration.
In an interview with “Azg,” a former aide to the late Turkish President Turgut Ozal says Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliev’s departure could dramatically increase the likelihood of renewed fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh. “The no-war-no-peace situation is very dangerous,” says Cengiz Candar. “One and a half years ago, I went to Karabakh and after looking at its geographical position I realized why the Armenians are not pulling out of the occupied territories. If the Armenians withdraw from the occupied Azerbaijani territories, Karabakh will be left unprotected.” Candar shares the Armenian view that Turkey has taken a biased stance in the Karabakh conflict and can not be an impartial mediator in its peaceful resolution.