Answering questions from “Golos Armenii” readers, Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian reiterates government pledges to “substantially increase” lending to small and medium-sized businesses in 2009. “We hope to attract approximately $250 million [from abroad] for that purpose,” he says. “There are states that have not been greatly affected by the global crisis, and Armenia is one of them,” adds Sarkisian. He also says the mostly foreign owners of Armenia’s mining enterprises, hit increasingly hard by the crisis, must use “excessive profits” made by them in recent years for helping their employees.
“If the Armenian authorities intend to prevent a profound impact of the crisis with a psychological boost to the population, they must not proclaim grandiose programs for showcasing their self-confidence but embark on substantive reforms inside the country, reform the nature of the government-public relationship in all spheres,” writes Lragir.am. The online publication believes that Armenians can be optimistic about the future in times of crisis only if they are certain that “the country’s governance is carried by the principles of justice, equality and brotherhood.”
“Novoye Vremya” reports that the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) will organize on December 21 a televised fund-raiser in Los Angeles in support of the families of its supporters arrested in the wake of the 2008 presidential election. Arman Musinian, an HAK spokesman, is quoted as saying that the money will also be used for financing the alliance’s “logistical expenditures.” The Russian-language paper says the HAK is primarily targeting wealthy Armenians living in California. It notes that most of those Armenians are not the ones who emigrated from Armenia during former President Levon Ter-Petrosian’s rule.
“The opposition is so poor that it is resorting to a pan-national fund-raising,” comments “Hraparak,” suggesting that Ter-Petrosian and his entourage did not after all benefit from government corruption during the 1990s. The paper also praises the Ter-Petrosian-led opposition for “bringing money to the country.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” says the opposition is buoyed by renewed criticism of the Armenian authorities voiced by American and European officials. The pro-government claims that the HAK’s upcoming conference was timed to coincide with the crucial meeting in Paris of the Monitoring Committee of the Council Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly. It goes on to attack U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza for again expressing concern about the continuing imprisonment of dozens of Ter-Petrosian supporters.