“Hayots Ashkhar” criticizes those who believe that Robert Kocharian should have consulted with the Armenian opposition before sending his letter to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. “Which government would start a dialogue or, what is more, consult with opposition leaders when they say for 50 times a day that the government is illegitimate, criminal and ruining the country all the time?” it asks.
“Iravunk” says the Armenian law-enforcement authorities have done little to investigate a violent incident that disrupted an opposition rally in Sevan last week. They are instead threatening to prosecute the leader of the Nor Zhamanakner party, Aram Karapetian, who organized the protest. In addition, says the paper, Kocharian has given more powers to Minister for Local Government Hovik Abrahamian who “to put it mildly, is not perceived positively by the public.”
“All of this demonstrates that political rule is absolutely non-existent in Armenia,” continues “Iravunk.” “Even the so-called governing parties have practically no power and nobody cares about their opinion. Real power is concentrated in the hands of semi-criminal clans and security structures. At the same time, the upcoming local elections are deepening disagreements among the existing clans and it can be predicted that unless a revolution happens in Armenia until the fall, the local elections will be accompanied by fierce clashes that could involve weapons.”
“Aravot” carries a sarcastic commentary on the decision by Prime Minister Andranik Markarian’s son to contest the forthcoming election in Yerevan’s Avan district. “By some mysterious and surprising coincidence, it is the wives and children of our government officials that are becoming skilled entrepreneurs and own a lot of property,” writes the paper. “Moreover, they have so much money that they can allow themselves to enter big politics, which you can’t do without investing a serious sum. Of course, nobody can ban the offspring of government officials from getting promoted. But in a country like this, one has to show some tact and restraint.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says the anticipated constitutional referendum is “slowly but steadily becoming the main issue on the political agenda. “Western experts believe that it is this referendum that can be the factor that will be make democratic revolution possible in Armenia. In essence, the West is keeping its promise not to let Kocharian’s regime avoid the referendum, exerting unprecedented pressure over this issue. They think in the West that they thereby do the Armenian opposition a huge favor.” But, the paper says, if the opposition fails to ensure that Kocharian’s constitutional amendments are rejected, little will prevent Kocharian from seeking a third term in office in 2008.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says the Yerevan-based representative of the International Monetary Fund, James McHugh, made “scandalous” comments in an interview with the government-controlled “Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” daily published on Thursday. The paper says the chairman of the Armenian Central Bank, Tigran Sarkisian, has repeatedly claimed that the bank has no role in the appreciation of the Armenian dram. “However, McHugh’s statement shows that the changes in the dram’s exchange rate have been managed by the Central Bank. This in turn can give us an idea of … how many million dollars have the circles known to you and ourselves have earned with the manageable exchange rate.”