“Aravot” dismisses as a fraud government claims that Armenia’s Gross Domestic Product next year will be 7 percent higher than it was in 1989. “In 1989, pensioners could get by with their pensions and civil servants with their salaries, the republic was not in blockade, healthcare and education were, so to speak, more free-of-charge than now, elderly people were not scavenging in garbage bins, while the industry worked at full capacity,” argues the paper.
“In short, patiently wait till next year and the life in our country will be utter happiness,” “Aravot” adds sarcastically. “On the other hand, it is inexplicable how come we, having such good indicators, pose as poor and miserable in front of international organizations and beg loans and grants from them.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says Armen Avetisian, the Armenian customs chief, always wards off questions about his extravagant lifestyle with claims that all of his luxury cars and houses belong to his father. Asked by the paper whether his suits worth thousands of dollars are also his father’s, Avetisian replies in the negative. “I can afford a couple of such suits,” he says. “Do you want the chief of the republic’s customs service to wear a Clara Zetkin?” he asks, referring to a Soviet clothing brand. “That factory doesn’t work. Once it resumes work we will start wearing Clara Zetkin.”
Covering the latest fact-finding visit to Yerevan by senior Council of Europe officials, “Aravot” says the key question is whether the Armenian authorities managed to dupe them into thinking that their country is on the path of reform and democratization.
Newspapers also comment on President Robert Kocharian’s pessimistic remarks about prospects for peace with Azerbaijan. “In the last four or five years Kocharian has never expressed discontent in connection with Stepanakert’s failure to become involved in the negotiation process,” writes “Azg.” The paper recalls that back in March 2001, after talks in Paris with the then Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliev, Kocharian declared that he himself represents the Karabakh Armenians in the peace process. It says Yerevan itself helped to drive Karabakh out of that process by agreeing to direct talks with Azerbaijan. “Now it can be assumed that the process of a Karabakh settlement is in complete deadlock and the conflicting parties are left to trade accusations.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” also finds Kocharian’s Monday comments extraordinary, saying that he should only blame himself for Karabakh representatives’ absence from the peace talks. “Robert Kocharian himself is one of the founders of their existing format and throughout his presidency the opposition has regularly accused Kocharian of leaving Karabakh out of the negotiation format,” says the paper.
“Iravunk” suggests that Kocharian is concerned about renewed international pressure for the conflict’s resolution. “That is an additional and therefore untimely headache for the Armenian authorities now that there are numerous inner-government problems the resolution of which will not proceed quite smoothly,” it says.