“Aravot” forecasts that “some ministerial and deputy ministerial heads will roll” as a result of the hearings on annual performance reports submitted to Prime Minister Andranik Markarian by various government agencies. The hearings officially began on Monday. The paper also speculates that that two other pro-presidential groups represented in the Armenian parliament will be included in the current ruling coalition.
“Iravunk” adds its voice to speculation that Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian is emerging as President Robert Kocharian’s most likely political successor and is already being groomed for that role. The paper says the active promotion of the government’s anti-corruption program also “contains pre-election elements.” “In particular, Dashnaktsutyun is trying to make inroads on the taxation and customs services,” it claims.
“Aravot” points to Sarkisian’s remark last week that few state structures in Armenia are corrupt and wonders if it contradicts the spirit of the government’s anti-corruption drive. “I really can not say what that assessment by Mr. Sarkisian is based on, but think that as long as objective standards are absent there could be various types of evaluations,” Dashnaktsutyun leader Armen Rustamian tells the paper vaguely. Rustamian adds that corruption is widespread in Armenia, citing in particular the huge size of its shadow economy.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says Dashnaktsutyun’s extremely negative attitude to the Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission contrasts with a more tolerant stance taken by the country’s leadership. It quotes Rustamian as urging the authorities to thwart any TARC meetings in Yerevan because that would “create a very positive image for Turkey and will contribute to its year-end accession to the European Union.” A senior member of Markarian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), Galust Sahakian, says that while the HHK remains critical of the TARC’s activities it would not seek to prevent the U.S.-backed body from meeting in Yerevan. “We are not Turks or Azerbaijanis to impede any meetings,” Sahakian says.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” adds that similar comments were made by the spokesmen for the Armenian president and the Foreign Ministry. “The state does not care at all where a particular non-governmental organization holds its meetings,” the paper concludes.
“Hayots Ashkhar,” however, shares the Dashnaktsutyun view that a TARC meeting in Armenia would help Turkey’s long-standing bid to join the EU. The paper at the same time asserts that an Armenian decision to thwart or disrupt such a gathering would also play into the Turks’ hands. Official Ankara is ready to make only insignificant concessions to the Armenians, it says.
“Azg” blames Dashnaktsutyun’s Rustamian and other members of the Armenian delegation at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) for a draft PACE resolution that refers to “the conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh and other occupied Azerbaijani territories.” The text of the resolution was finalized at a meeting in Paris last week of the PACE’s monitoring commission. The paper says the inclusion of the “extremely unpleasant” language was made possible by the “shoddy work” of Rustamian and deputy speaker Tigran Torosian who attended the meeting.