(Saturday, December 27)
“Aravot” makes a grotesque forecast of political developments in Armenia next year. President Robert Kocharian, the paper says, will announce a triple-digit rate of economic growth and the creation of 140,000 new jobs at the end of 2004. Constitutional Court Chairman Gagik Harutiunian will call for a nationwide referendum on extending Kocharian’s presidency to the rest of his lifetime. As for Prime Minister Andranik Markarian, the paper says he will reinforce his nationalist Republican Party by recruiting scores of tax inspectors, customs officers and “owners of big barbecue restaurants.” Opposition leader Artashes Geghamian will publish a treatise on his vital contribution to the world civilization, while his opposition rival Stepan Demirchian will keep reaffirming his commitment to “constitutional” methods of political struggle without achieving any practical results.
In its last issue of 2003, “Haykakan Zhamanak” says New Year’s Eve is a time for everyone to rethink their lives and the appreciate things which often seem insignificant to them. “It is the New Year that gives us an opportunity to make a pause, get out of the stream and realize how much we love our parents, children, friends, loved ones, people, a passerby walking in the street, the country and the planet,” editorializes the paper.
“Azg” believes that Armenia will need “realism, flexibility and accord” to successfully meet serious challenges which await it in the international arena in 2004. “The coming year will be a year of finally clarifying positions, relationships and behaviors and overcoming disagreements,” the paper says, predicting more active international efforts to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. It says all possible variants of a peaceful settlement have already been presented to the conflict parties. “We can only get actively involved in settlement processes and try to emerge from the bargaining with minimum losses and establish a just peace with Azerbaijan.”
“We can only jointly meet the numerous challenges of our difficult times,” writes “Golos Armenii.”