(Saturday, March 7)
“Aravot” reports that Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian shrugged off opposition criticism of his government’s economic policies during a public lecture at the Slavonic University of Armenia on Friday. Sarkisian said that harsh assessments of the government’s anti-crisis measures are a “manifestation of stupidity.” He also said that “greed” is the main cause of the global economic crisis.
Artsvik Minasian, a parliament deputy from the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), tells “Hayots Ashkhar” that a gradual devaluation of the dram would have been more beneficial for Armenia. “It would have prevented the formation of negative expectations and unpredictable behavior among economic entities as well as consumers, citizens,” says Minasian. “The drastic switch [to a floating exchange rate] has created serious economic challenges, the manifestation of which we are witnessing now.” Minasian believes that the government and the Central Bank of Armenia (CBA) should send “positive signals” to the population by “working transparently” and abolishing de facto economic monopolies.
“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” says that President Serzh Sarkisian no longer any “resources” to hold on to power and at the same time has no provide explanations to the public increasingly affected by the economic crisis. “It is obvious that everything will become increasingly expensive in Armenia and social tension will grow,” says the opposition paper. “Pressure from international structures will increase parallel to that … To put it simply, time does not work for Serzh Sarkisian and every unit of time weakens his positions.” The paper says the Armenian opposition is therefore right not to “hurry” in its quest for regime change. It claims that the next opposition rally scheduled for May will attract a much bigger crowd.
“Golos Armenii” believes that each of the four political parties represented in Armenia’s government bears responsibility for overall government policies, rather than the performance of ministries controlled by them. “In the current coalition everyone is responsible for everything,” says the paper. “In other words, its parties are deprived of a possibility of asserting themselves at the expense of a senior partner.” This, it says, what makes the ruling coalition different from the one that had been formed in 2003. Having said that, continues the paper, the three junior partners of the Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) keep trying to act independently and even distance themselves from the HHK.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports on the deteriorated health condition of Shant Harutiunian, one of the seven imprisoned opposition figures standing trial on coup charges. “He hasn’t slept and eaten for the past nine days,” says the paper. “According to Harutiunian’s relatives, his condition is worsening by the hour and he needs not be hospitalized as soon as possible.”