“Haykakan Zhamanak” says only a few deputies were on hand to hear a government statement on the implementation of Armenia’s 2004 budget this week. This is construed by the paper as a vivid indication of just how poor “state governance” has become in Armenia.
“Yerkir” similarly notes that the recent parliament debates have not been attended by more than two dozen deputies. The paper says most parliamentarians show up only when the government needs to urgently push a bill through the National Assembly.
“In the last two years the National Assembly has played a rubber-stamp role,” opposition lawmaker Victor Dallakian tells “Aravot.” “Most bills have not undergone serious debates and in essence the National Assembly’s aggressive-obedient majority has rubber-stamped those bills.” More than 85 percent of them were drafted by the government. Dallakian says this shows that the assembly is “unable to perform its duties.” Dallakian goes on to urge Armenians to vote against President Robert Kocharian’s constitutional amendments at a referendum later this year, saying that would mean a vote of no confidence in his regime.
“Aravot” dismisses speculation that U.S.-Armenian billionaire Kirk Kerkorian may have brought a message from President George W. Bush calling for regime change during his visit to Armenia last week. “In general, no U.S. billionaire will take on such a mission, and in particular, Kerkorian, who is not a supporter of George Bush, is even less likely to have done so,” writes the paper. It adds that the speculation is spread by Armenian opposition leaders who believe that regime change in Yerevan is impossible without American assistance. “Even though the speculation about [Kerkorian carrying] the message is ludicrous, it precisely reflects our political practice: Nobody wants to take any steps without the Dad’s permission.”
According to “Ayb-Fe,” Armenian oppositionists have been buoyed by Bush’s renewed pledge to spread democracy across the Caucasus and Central Asia. The paper says they are now trying to persuade the people that they are “Bush’s apostles” and are at the same time seeking American support. One of the opposition leaders, Aram Sarkisian, has acknowledged he expects to receive such support during a visit to Washington in early June.
“We must primarily pin our hopes on ourselves,” another opposition leader, Stepan Demirchian, tells “Iravunk.” Demirchian refuses to confirm or refute reports that he too will visit Washington soon.
“Hayots Ashkhar” says that if Russia really considers Armenia a “strategic rally” it must take “concrete steps” to ensure that the latter does not lose in regional economic competition.