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Press Review


(Saturday, December 6)

Citing data from the Central Bank of Armenia (CBA), “Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that the amount of U.S. dollars sold by Armenian commercial banks has soared in the past week amid a renewed weakening of the dram. With ordinary Armenians reportedly having trouble buying dollars from those banks and currency exchange shops, the paper claims that the banks are selling hard currency to “privileged people” at discount prices.

“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” dismisses President Serzh Sarkisian’s analysis of post-Soviet economic trends in Armenia which he made on Friday during a congress of the Armenian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. The paper is particularly scathing about his assertion that the quality of economic growth in the country is now higher than it was under his predecessors, Robert Kocharian and Levon Ter-Petrosian.

“Serzh Sarkisian expressed thoughts that cannot lead to substantial changes and used incomprehensible and cliché phrases, concluding that very big opportunities will open for entrepreneurial people from January 1,” “Zhoghovurd” comments on the speech.

In an interview with “Zhamanak,” Aram Sarkisian, the leader of the opposition Hanrapetutyun (Republic) party, condemns the Armenian parliament for ratifying Armenia’s accession treaty with the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) which was signed in October. Sarkisian dismisses arguments that Armenia cannot stay away from the EEU because close ties with Russia are critical for its security. He argues that Russia is selling weapons to Azerbaijan and bolstering strategic ties with Turkey. “Do they want to join a union where officials are appointed [rather than elected,] and where they don’t take into account the will of the people?” he says.

“Claims about the loss of our sovereignty and independence are exaggerated,” “Aravot” writes in an editorial on Armenia’s membership in the EEU. “The treaty’s ratification was not a more radical step than the [2003] assets-for-debt deal with Russia and the sale of our energy distribution network, most of our telecommunication, the gas pipeline network and many other things to the Russians. It was certainly wrong but it was not the end of the world. True, the existing system does not foster the country’s political and economic development. This is the reason why we are pinning our hopes on external forces and Russia in the first instance. It is this system which has to be changed with slow and consistent efforts.”

(Heghine Buniatian)

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