“Yerkir” editorializes that Armenian government ministries are not accountable and transparent to the public despite issuing annual reports summarizing their activities. The ministers will start submitting their 2003 reports to Prime Minister Andranik Markarian from January 19. “The majority of senior state officials never bother to be accountable during their work,” the paper says, expressing hope that the upcoming report hearings will stop being a mere formality.
“We envy not the wealth of developed countries (there are quite a few wealthy persons in our country) but the fact that they are far more democratic than we,” writes “Aravot.” “We are therefore forced to admit that we envy a growing number of countries. Including Russia which is not quite democratic compared to America and Europe. But even there prosecutors can accuse a city mayor of negligence and abuse of social position. Even in our wildest dreams we can not imagine our prosecutor’s office bringing such charges against any mayor of Yerevan.” Former mayor Robert Nazarian, for example, could have easily been prosecuted for allowing commercial construction in the city’s main public parks.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that President Robert Kocharian is facing a March 1 deadline for appointing Armenia’s first-ever human rights ombudsman. Under a recently enacted law he has to pick the official after consulting with parliament factions. The paper says that it has interviewed their leaders and that they find it difficult to suggest a candidacy meeting the law’s requirements. It adds that the only person to have publicly expressed a wish to get the new job is Alvard Petrosian, a parliament deputy from the governing Armenian Revolutionary Federation.
“Whoever occupies that post must be able not to taint the post because it is rather a mission than a job,” Petrosian says. “Haykakan Zhamanak,” for its part, believes that Kocharian will make sure that the ombudsman will primarily serve himself instead of fighting against human rights abuses in Armenia.
The governing Republican Party’s deputy chairman Tigran Torosian comments in “Hayots Ashkhar” on the opposition forces’ ongoing efforts to form a united front against the ruling regime. He says the new alliance would not be effective without having a single leader. Torosian is skeptical about the opposition’s ability to choose one. Torosian also appears to rule out any expansion of the governing three-party coalition. “I see no changes in the coalition’s composition in the foreseeable future,” he says.
According to “Iravunk,” the key issue for the government camp is who should be chosen as Kocharian’s political successor in 2008. The government forces are trying to guess who will enjoy the backing of Russia and other foreign powers and make corresponding bets. Each of them will eventually try to obtain opposition support for their preferred candidate, the paper speculates.