“Yerkir” joins pro-presidential newspapers in praising President Robert Kocharian’s speech at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on June 23. The weekly paper hopes that Kocharian’s thoughts on the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, international recognition of the 1915 Armenian Genocide and democratization will become “guidelines for Armenia’s development.” “This approach can serve as the basis for the domestic political and public accord,” it says.
“Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” claims that Kocharian has “considerably increased his approval ratings” since the Strasbourg speech. “The society has received an impetus of confidence,” the government-funded daily says. “The opposition, for its part, has to make huge tactical and perhaps strategic corrections in its work style not only for the sake of the country’s might and stability and public consolidation but also its own political longevity.”
“Iravunk” wonders why the Armenian authorities are determined to maintain the highly controversial 18-month imprisonment of an opposition activist who hit a police officer with a plastic bottle now that the opposition campaign for regime change is over. The paper is worried that the authorities may have decided to “suppress any manifestation of protest” against not only the regime as a whole but also its individual representatives. They also seem to fear that challenges against their rule may be re-ignited at any moment.
“Hayots Ashkhar” says the latest pro-Western tilt in opposition leader Artashes Geghamian’s discourse has surprised many observers. The paper says Geghamian cast off his reputation of a pro-Russian politician this week to make “clearly pro-American statements.” “This U-turn too will not help Geghamian because neither Russia nor the United States need the likes of him,” the paper says.
A spokeswoman for Stepan Demirchian’s People’s Party (HZhK), Ruzan Khachatrian, assures “Aravot” that the Armenian opposition is not pro-Russian as is claimed by members of former President Levon Ter-Petrosian’s inner circle. Khachatrian points to the HZhK’s and the Artarutyun alliance’s election platforms which call for good relations with Armenia’s immediate neighbors.
“Azg” brands the Armenian government’s poverty reduction program a “fraud,” saying that its definition of poverty reduction is different from international standards. “For our government the poverty line is an indicator set by the National Statistical Service and enthusiastically adopted by the Finance Ministry as a benchmark,” the paper explains, saying that the monthly income threshold of 12,000 drams ($22.6) per person is ridiculously low. It adds bitingly that the poverty line is to be raised by “as much as $3” within the next 11 years.