(Saturday, November 8)
“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” slams the government decision to set up a new agency tasked with monitoring and regulating the work of local media outlets.
“One of the goals of the emerging structure to be called a Center for Public Relations and Information will be conducing a general and ‘thematic’ monitoring and analysis of mass media. This means that from now on media will come under scrutiny also according to specific subjects, such as: what a paper wrote about [President] Serzh Sarkisian; how [his brother] Aleksandr Sarkisian’s business was presented, and others,” the newspaper writes, concluding: “In short, a state body clearly pursuing the goal of destroying the last crumbs of free speech is being set up in Armenia.”
“Hraparak” editorializes on the same subject: “All presidents of independent Armenia considered ‘combating free press’ to be their duty. While the first president felt that ‘necessity’ only in the third or fourth year of his presidency as he began to close opposition newspapers, then his two successors ‘appreciated the correctness’ of this option sooner.”
Listing only a few of ‘numerous’ encroachments upon the media under Armenia’s second president Robert Kocharian, including the controversial closure of an independent TV station, A1+, the paper also writes: “Serzh Sarkisian, who has so far served as president for only seven months, is just coming round after a period of heavy political tensions and is sure to show his “face” of an enemy of the press in the time to come. The latest decision to set up a press monitoring body is just the first sign of it.”
Under the headline “From Brussels to Jermuk”, Armenia’s official daily newspaper “Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” writes: “Returning from a visit to the Kingdom of Belgium, Armenian President and Chess Federation chief Serzh Sarkisian was on a two-day visit in the southern province of Vayots Dzor beginning Friday. He had hurried to the resort town of Jermuk to greet and encourage the national team of chess players before they leave for Germany to participate in the 38th World Chess Olympiad. The president had meetings with all chessmen and also had time to play ping pong with Armenia’s number one player Levon Aronian.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” publishes more critical remarks about the main opposition leader, Levon Ter-Petrosian, asserting that his current ideas about democracy, human rights, free speech, civil liberties, rule of law and others are in stark contrast to his track record as first president of Armenia. “On what platform did Ter-Petrosian make his political comeback after nearly a decade of reclusion?” the pro-establishment paper queries. “Today, he continues to carry out his struggle having taken on board the tactics and strategy of dismantling the governing system, which is tantamount to destroying the state.”
In an interview with “Zhamanak-Yerevan”, American-Armenian analyst Richard Giragosian predicts a change in the new U.S. administration’s policies toward the entire Caucasus region, including a change in relations with Armenia.
“The United States will become more demanding toward Armenia’s authorities and will not turn a blind eye to the wrong things in Armenia,” the analyst says, adding that instead of imposing democracy on other countries in a way that the outgoing Bush administration has tried to do, the next administration of President-elect Barack Obama will advocate and assist strengthening democracy from within. “That is, Armenians should establish democracy for Armenia rather than for foreigners from other countries.”
In its editorial “Aravot” says that the case of the March 1 [post-election unrest] has partially turned into a process of taking revenge upon pro-opposition businessmen, notably the businesses run by the extended family of [fugitive lawmaker] Khachatur Sukiasian, who backed the main opposition candidate in the February presidential election. “What’s the ‘positive’ for the authorities in here? Well, this is a kind of ‘message’ to all other local businessmen to serve and show loyalty to the government if they want to continue to do business in this country. But the bad news for the authorities is that the property institution does not work in Armenia and doing business here depends on the political conjunction. And this ‘negative’ is a ‘message’ to foreign investors. Thus, the negative prevails.”
“Hayk” predicts under the headline “Goodbye to the Nuke Station” that Armenia will cease to be a nuclear energy country soon and will entirely depend on imported gas and its own water resources.
“Like the tram, nuclear energy will become history in Armenia. Naturally, many will remember that in his recent policy speech President Serzh Sarkisian spoke about the plans for the construction of a new nuclear power plant. But we understand well that the statement was intended to make the process of shutting the existing nuclear station as noiseless as possible,” the paper claims. “Today, Sarkisian’s top objective is to shut the Metsamor station and get the support of the leaders of European Union member states.”