(Saturday, July 26)
Newspapers report on growing rumors about the imminent sacking of Hovik Abrahamian, Armenia’s influential minister for local government and industrial infrastructures. President Robert Kocharian is said to have prepared a corresponding decree and to be awaiting Abrahamian’s return from Western Europe where he is reportedly spending his vacation along with several other ministers and businessmen.
“Aravot” comments that the easing of government-opposition confrontations in Armenia always gives rise to “intrigues” and bickering inside the ruling regime and this summer is no exception from that rule. “An active opposition stance fosters the consolidation of various government wings and clans. Conversely, a passive opposition stance splits up those wings and clans.” The paper goes on to predict a rise in the Dashnaktsutyun party’s influence in Armenia’s government. “It is possible that Dashnaktsutyun will become President Kocharian’s main support base during the final years of his tenure,” it says. The paper claims that Kocharian likes Dashnaktsutyun’s “tough and intransigent” line on Armenia’s neighbors and its “disdain for democracy, liberalism and other ‘anti-national’ phenomena.” Also appealing, it says, is the nationalist party’s rigid organizational structure and inner discipline which contrasts with the unpredictable nature of other pro-presidential forces.
“Aravot” is also scathing about the Armenian Central Bank’s claims that the recent surge in the value of the dram has boosted Armenians’ confidence in their national currency. “In reality, the only thing to which this anti-dollar turmoil has contributed is a growth in the people’s distrust of the state and its rulers,” the paper says, arguing that many people now do not know whether they should keep their modest savings in drams, dollars or euros.
“Azg” joins other newspapers in ringing alarm bells over the controversial government plans to auction off much of a famous orchard just outside the center of Yerevan for real estate development. The paper notes grimly that saving the Dalma Gardens from destruction is all but impossible.
Speaking to “Hayots Ashkhar” ahead of Prime Minister Andranik Markarian’s visit to Tbilisi, one of his aides reaffirms Armenia’s readiness to assist with “investments” in Georgian government efforts to improve the socioeconomic situation in the Georgia’s Armenian-populated Javakheti region. “Those could have a both humanitarian and development character,” Stepan Markarian says. He complains that the Georgians have still not come up with a “concrete program” of doing that. “We are now going to try to clarify those issues,” he adds. Stepan Markarian also shares the view that Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia will find it extremely hard to emerge from their post-Soviet economic doldrums without an integration of their economies. “[Our] markets are small. We can expect serious investments only as a single unified region.”