(Saturday, August 12)
“Aravot” predicts “unpleasant surprises” awaiting the Armenian government as a result of President George W. Bush’s announced plan to track down and confiscate assets of corrupt foreign leaders kept in banks around the world. The paper says this is another indication of why corruption is so dangerous for Armenia’s national security. It says the country’s rulers should therefore “steal a bit less,” instead of constantly warning government criticism against “damaging Nagorno-Karabakh.”
“Even on the future status of Karabakh disagreements within the government are impossible,” writes “Zhamanak Yerevan.” “First of all because various layers of the government pyramid are solely concerned with their welfare. So it turns out that even issues of pan-national significance can not open a crack in the government pyramid.” One such crack, according to the paper, is emerging now. But at the heart of it is competing political and economic interests, rather than concern for Armenia’s future. “We are dealing with a classic clan clash whose magnitude could prove destructive for the country. The impression is that Robert Kocharian has given the following fatherly advice to the clans openly opting for a confrontation: gobble up each other.”
“Azg” reports on lines forming outside currency exchange offices on a busy Yerevan street. “People are exchanging large sums, appalled by the fact that the dollar has fallen below the 400-dram level and could fall below the threshold of 350 or 300 [drams,]” says the paper. It at the same seems to accept that the nearly $1 billion in external remittances received by Armenians last year is responsible for the dram’s continuing appreciation.
Lragir.am claims that the dram’s strengthening has “spread certain panic and uncertainty also in some official circles of Armenia.” “Their salary is of course set in drams,” says the online publication. “But for them the salary is not the source of making a living, but an alibi. They earn a living in dollars.” It claims that bribes in Armenia will increasingly be paid in drams, adding sarcastically that “it is not yet clear the exchange rate of what year will be used for calculating their extra revenues.”
Lragir.am also reports that a group of Armenians from Greece have abandoned plans to attend an Armenia-Diaspora conference in Yerevan, scheduled for next month, after “circles close to conference organizers” offered them to pay $5,000 person for a ten-day stay in hotels outside Yerevan. “The group of Dashnak patriots, which mainly consisted of elderly Diaspora Armenians, felt that a $5,000 conference is a rip-off and gave up plans to come to Armenia,” it says.