“Aravot” reports on sweeping staff changes in Armenia’s government which it says were initiated not by the coalition parties but by President Robert Kocharian. “These issues were not discussed at meetings of the coalition council that incidentally have not taken place for a long time,” says the paper.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that the government will also undergo structural changes that will give additional powers to Minister for Local Government Hovik Abrahamian. Several government agencies dealing with water resources, emergency situations and refugees will be subordinated to him. “We can conclude that yet another super-ministry is in the making,” says the paper.
According to “Iravunk,” Abrahamian’s ministry will gain control over the Department of State Property Management along with the above mentioned agencies. But as an unnamed government source tells the paper, “Hovik Abrahamian will hardly be allowed to head that super-ministry.” The Republican Party of Prime Minister Andranik Markarian has yet to decide should take over the ministry, adds the source.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” believes that scaling back tax evasion in Armenia is not a difficult task as many of the businesses hiding their profits are owned by members of Kocharian’s entourage or have close ties with the coalition parties. “Kocharian has a good opportunity to put his vaunted determination to the service of the state and the people,” it says. But the paper says that while Kocharian’s threats have spread panic among medium-sized businesses the much wealthier “oligarchs” see cause for concern. “On the contrary, they are in suspiciously high spirits, while their skinheads are training in a normal regime.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” also stresses the importance of taxing big business, saying that even a slight increase in their fiscal responsibility could bring substantial sums to the state budget. “It is at the same time clear that the problems will not be solved as long as economic entities are able to hide the real volumes of their activity and operating revenues,” it says.
“Iravunk” claims that both Russia and the United States are demanding that the Armenian government embark on “comprehensive reforms” or face a popular revolution. “In essence, revolutionary change in Armenia is inevitable.” But the paper says if Kocharian really tries to bring about “drastic change” he will face strong resistance from his loyalists and will have to look for a new support base.
In an interview with “Yerkir,” a leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), Hrant Markarian, says a Georgian or Ukrainian revolution is impossible in Armenia. He fears that “some external forces” could help the Armenian opposition replicate such revolts. But Markarian is confident that such efforts would spark a nationalist backlash and fail. He also claims that Dashnaktsutyun’s faction in parliament is more influential that the much bigger Republican faction. “In Armenian reality, we are the greatest party in terms of outreach and quality.”