In an interview with “Aravot,” veteran politician Vazgen Manukian makes a case against a “reckless” change of the status quo in the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Manukian puts that in the context of chronic instability in the broader region, going so far as to cite the tense situations in Chechnya and the Middle East. “In this unstable situation any new solution would lead to instability. I think that it makes no sense to touch on the Karabakh issue until a common picture is painted for the whole region,” he says.
“Hayots Ashkhar” dismisses as unconvincing Central Bank Chairman Tigran Sarkisian’s assurances that the bank’s response to the appreciation of the Armenian dram has been correct. The pro-establishment paper says Sarkisian’s efforts to dispel widespread suspicion about speculative currency trading fell flat when he admitted that the dram’s exchange rate fluctuations have a short-term character. It insists that the Central Bank should have acted to stop the dram’s “artificial” strengthening and that increased inflows of hard currency into Armenia, cited by Sarkisian, could not have had such an impact.
“Hayots Ashkhar” goes on to deride the Central Bank chief’s calls for Armenians to keep their savings in drams. “It is interesting to know who will be held accountable if the people follow the Central Bank chairman’s advice and suffer serious losses later on. The thing is that the reliability of Tigran Sarkisian’s forecasts perhaps can be compared to the forecasts of our meteorologists.”
Mayor Yervand Zakharian tells “Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” that Yerevan’s mayors must continue to be appointed by the president of the republic. Zakharian claims that an elected mayor would create “serious difficulties” for the prime minister. “Such a mayor, especially if they are a bit ambitious, could become absolutely uncontrollable,” he says. “There are very few states with capitals as significant as Yerevan.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” is concerned about what it sees as a widespread disregard for the law and social justice on the part of Armenia’s “nouveaux riches.” “There is growing belief among the nouveaux riches in the idea of the rule of money replacing the rule of law,” the paper says. “If things continue like this Armenia might transform itself into a café-sauna-casino entertainment house where the great majority of residents will be meek servants or will leave the country.”
“Aravot” commends the Royal Armenia coffee company for publicly accusing the Armenian customs of bribery and other illegal practices. “It’s a pity that all of our domestic manufacturers are not so strong and self-confident as to confront the corrupt state bureaucracy head on. Unfortunately, most of them agree to bribe the customs and tax bodies so that the latter leave them alone and do not impede their economic activity. This is how our corrupt officials are being fed.” The paper adds that no senior government official has so far reacted to the Royal Armenia complaints which it describes as a test case for the seriousness of the authorities’ declared fight against corruption.”