(Saturday, December 18)
“Haykakan Zhamanak” carries a front-page comment on Azerbaijani Ilham Aliev’s derogatory reference to Armenia’s description as “Russia’s outpost in the Caucasus” by a senior Russian official. The paper calls it a “slap” in Armenia’s face. “Armenia is being slapped as a result of the consistent anti-state policy pursued by its government.
In an interview with “Aravot,” deputy parliament speaker Vahan Hovannisian says while Armenia continues to stand for a “package” resolution of the Karabakh conflict he is not against including some elements of a “phased” settlement in the future peace accord. “Everything is possible. Everything depends on our interests. If tomorrow our interests are secured with phased variants I will immediately become an advocate of the phased [settlement],” he says. The Dashnaktsutyun leader adds that the Armenians can always quickly get the kind of a peace deal favored by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian in 1997.
“Aravot” says the controversy over the planned parliament debate on devaluated Soviet-era bank accounts is little more than “an interesting show.” The paper believes that parliament deputy Hmayak Hovannisian, who raised the issue, is simply tasked with discrediting the Orinats Yerkir Party of Artur Baghdasarian. “As for the Republicans, they can’t participate in those games. The prime minister and the finance minister are their men. As a result, the savings will remain uncompensated.”
In his interview with “Haykakan Zhamanak,” Vahan Hovannisian likewise says that Hmayak Hovannisian is carrying out somebody’s orders. But when asked not name that powerful individual, the Dashnaktsutyun leader replies, “I don’t answer such provocative questions.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” notes that President Robert Kocharian’s meeting earlier in the week with the chairpersons of the Armenian courts took place in Justice Minister David Harutiunian’s absence. “That once again confirms reports that there is discontent with David Hartutiunian’s activities within the government elite.” The paper claims that Kocharian is preparing ground for Harutiunian’s ouster.
“Hayots Ashkhar” bemoans “the degradation of all state institutions” in Armenia. The pro-presidential paper says that not a single sphere of life in the country is free of “criminal influence.” “It is simply pointless to talk about the independence of our law-enforcement officials. Without outside intervention they are unable to even button their trousers.” The same is true for the Armenian judiciary.
“Golos Armenii” launches a scathing attack on “several dozen immoral and greedy persons” who it says are making the most of their grip on the consumer market during the pre-Christmas shopping binge. They are relentlessly “plundering” ordinary people, it says without naming names.