(Saturday, January 28)
The 20th anniversary of the official establishment of Armenia’s Armed Forces is the main theme of Saturday’s Armenian press commentary.
“Twenty years on, our army is going through serious internal changes in terms of its modernization, formation of new perceptions of its role in the country’s public life and its transformation into a more open system,” “Yerkir” writes in an editorial. “However, the elimination of taboos, stereotypes and banned topics, which are the natural consequences of those changes, should not lead … to the denigration of this national treasure.”
“When a tax inspector is corrupt that is regarded as a shortcoming characteristic of a particular area, but if an army commander is like that that is regarded not just as a vice but also a danger threatening our state,” editorializes “Aravot.” The paper says the same can be said of other vicious phenomena to which the armed forces have not been immune. “Thus the standards applied to the army are higher and this is right,” it says. “In essence, people don’t demand much from this state: more or less bearable living conditions in the first instance. But the most important demand is the following: the boy who guards our country’s border must feel that he has a secure rear and be protected against crime-prone soldiers and nasty officers.” The 20-year “glorious” history of the Armenian army makes this expectation absolutely realistic, concludes “Aravot.”
“Zhamanak” regards public outcries against non-combat deaths and other abuses in the army ranks as a “manifestation of care through which one attempts to reform the military.” “Instead of labeling this public care as something really bad, the authorities are obliged to cater for it. That is what they get paid for by the public in the first place. The army’s problems are so complex and interconnected that it’s impossible to bypass them even during public holidays.” The army is in need of “serious reforms,” the paper says, adding that any delay in their implementation puts the soldiers’ life at risk.
“Hayots Ashkhar” hails the army as the main Armenian trump card in the “victorious end” to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. “Today those young men who were born during the war are serving in the army,” notes the paper. “And tomorrow they will be replaced by grandchildren of participants of the Artsakh freedom fight. This means that homeland defense has already become a hereditary duty. The Armenian military is shaping up as a distinct social class which serves as the guarantor of the nation’s survival and security.”
“Azg” says the army deaths are having “a deep and negative psychological impact on the society” and no government assurance or justification can reverse it. The paper says the only way to address the problem is to get rid of “soulless and uneducated officers who don’t treat soldiers like their sons.”