“Zhamanak” says President Serzh Sarkisian’s December speech at a gathering of his Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) was portrayed by the government propaganda machine as a prelude to sweeping reforms. “He did make quite tough evaluations of the socioeconomic and political situations and the dangerous scale of corruption in the country,” writes the paper. But it says the Sarkisian government has since done nothing to prove that it is serious about changing things.
“Chorrord Inknishkhanutyun” claims that Armenia has lost the war with Azerbaijan in the economic, diplomatic and public relations fields. “Only the army has not been defeated yet and has successfully accomplished its mission,” says the opposition daily. “Unfortunately, that is not enough.”
Writing in his paper, Nikol Pashinian, the jailed editor-in-chief of “Haykakan Zhamanak” criticizes the newly introduced ban on the use of foreign license plates by Armenian car owners. He dismisses Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian’s argument that nobody should evade taxes in Armenia. “This guy doesn’t understand that he has no right to demand even a penny from the owners of cars with Georgian license plates until he fully collects taxes that must be paid but are not paid by the oligarchs,” writes Pashinian. He recalls Sarkisian’s repeated pledges to make big business the number one target of his crackdown on tax evasion. “In his last interview, he didn’t say a word about how much in unpaid taxes he has levied from big business because he hasn’t done that and we all knew that he won’t do,” adds the editor.
“Kapital” says the planned expansion of Armenia’s so-called North-South highways would seriously reduce its geographic and economic isolation. The Asian Development Bank pledged in 2009 to finance the project with a $500 million loan. The business paper says work on the “hugely strategic” project has still not started because of bureaucratic red tape.