“Aravot” carries a front-page editorial on what it calls “Ilham Aliyev’s favorite argument,” Azerbaijan’s defense budget worth about $2.15 billion. “One can voice at least three reservations about this figure,” writes the paper. “First, to what extent does it conform to the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty? International structures seem to be turning a blind eye to this question. Second, Azerbaijan is an even more authoritarian country than Armenia. What we know about the Armenian authorities’ non-transparent and uncontrollable activities is applicable to the neighboring country on a larger scale. They may indeed be spending that much money [on the military,] but only Azerbaijani generals know how much of that gets stolen. But most importantly, chances of any country’s military success are not conditioned by its military spending.”
Speaking to “Haykakan Zhamanak,” Aram Safarian, an Armenian lawmaker who participated in the latest session of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly in Oslo, says there was “a lot of interest” in the upcoming meeting of the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers. “Everyone realizes that these are very difficult negotiations and that it will be very difficult to reconcile such opposite views,” he says. Safarian predicts that “some document” on the Karabakh settlement will be signed by the end of this year. “That should be a platform for agreement,” he says.
“The mediating countries’ efforts to accelerate the completion of the Karabakh negotiating process are slowly pushing the whole process backward, rather than forward,” claims “Hayots Ashkhar.” “The reason is that the acceleration requires the clarification of those issues on which the parties have diametrically opposite positions. So naturally, each of them is now trying to tip the balance in its favor.”
“Hraparak” welcomes the announcement that Russian-Armenian businessman Ruben Vartanian is considering suspending the construction of a private international school in Armenia because of the outcry sparked by an Armenian government law allowing foreign-language schools. The paper calls the move “prudent.” “Indeed, with such resistance, no effort can end in success,” it says, congratulating those who have been actively campaigning against the law. “It is such victories that form a civil society, and the winners will never give up the fight,” concludes the paper.
“168 Zham comments on the often exorbitant cost of spending summer holidays in Armenian resorts. “Judging from the number of people going abroad on vacation, it is more beneficial for a large number of Armenians to travel to Antalya for $1,400 than to spend $1,500 on even the best resort in [the Armenian town of] Jermuk,” says the paper. “Of course, common sense suggests that Antalya is a better option, in terms of both the price and quality. The only problem is that if you opt for Antalya, some super-patriots could brand you as a traitor.”