(Saturday, September 6)
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says the planned increase in the price of electricity and natural gas in Armenia will hit hard not only ordinary Armenians but also the economy as a whole. The paper says power expenses make up an average of 8.5 percent of manufacturing costs in Armenia. Similarly, companies using natural gas spend 13 percent of their money on the fuel. “The economy will simply be rocked and even fixing economic growth figures will not save [the ruling regime],” the paper predicts ominously. “The population will lower the volume of consumption, which will in turn have a very adverse effect on the economy.”
According to “Golos Armenii,” there has been no “serious” economic reform in Armenia since independence. The successive governments’ economic policies have contributed to the “strengthening of mafia-style clan organizations” and have only damaged ordinary people. The paper, which until recently supported the authorities, says President Robert Kocharian has failed to make good on his pledge to ensure that benefits of growth trickle down to all segments of the population.
“Aravot” editorializes that Europe has run out of patience with Armenia. European officials, the paper says, can no longer hide their irritation when they see debates in Armenia on whether or not the country should fulfill some of its Council of Europe commitments. No exceptions will be made for Armenia, even if the majority of its people support the death penalty or oppose equal rights for sexual minorities. “The Europeans don’t care about it,” “Aravot” continues. “We joined the [European] club and must unconditionally respect its laws.”
“The Europeans no longer wish to be patient,” agrees “Hayots Ashkhar.” It is now up to Armenians to decide if they want to remain a member of the European family of nations. Singling out the issue of capital punishment, the pro-presidential paper blames the opposition for the delay with its full abolition.
“Hayots Ashkhar” also quotes the deputy speaker of the Armenian parliament, Tigran Torosian, as playing down reported differences inside the governing coalition. But Torosian does admit “serious differences” between the three coalition parties on who should appoint deputy ministers. “The discussions are not over and we will once again address that question very soon,” he adds.