“Armenia presently grapples with two issues that require urgent solutions,” writes “Zhamanak.” “One of them is the socioeconomic situation and the resulting poor public morale. The other is the establishment of civil society that should heighten public pressure on the ruling system and prod that system to take urgent steps needed for addressing the first issue.” The paper believes that constitutional reforms planned by President Serzh Sarkisian are irrelevant to any of these challenges.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” describes as useless a growing debate in Armenian political and media circles on the wisdom of the constitutional changes. “Bananas cost 400 drams ($.085) [per kilogram] in Moscow and 850 drams in Yerevan,” says the paper. “Why don’t you explain this phenomenon with your [constitutional] presumptions and theories?” It says that a government-linked company that has a monopoly on banana imports to Armenia will retain its very lucrative business regardless of the outcome of Sarkisian’s constitutional reform drive. It says the same applies to other oligarchs facing no competition in other sectors of the economy.
Laws and reality are very different things in Armenia, according to “Haykakan Zhamanak.” “This is not to say that the constitution and laws are not important,” the paper goes on. “They are. Our current constitution stipulates that all persons are equal before the law.” The problem is that this is not the case in real life, it concludes.
Lragir.am says that the constitutional amendments drafted by a presidential commission enable Sarkisian to continue to pull the strings after the end of his second and final presidential term in 2018 without him having to occupy another top government position. “In this sense, Serzh Sarkisian may indeed be sincere when he claims to [be planning to] renounce those posts,” writes the online publication. “He may thus be trying to ease the concerns of his opponents and the general public.”
“It would be incorrect to say that the question of the return of [Armenian-controlled] territories is not being discussed [in Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks] because Azerbaijan raises it all the time,” Davit Babayan, a spokesman for Bako Sahakian, Nagorno-Karabakh’s president, tells “Hayots Ashkhar.” “But that doesn’t mean that whatever Azerbaijan says is acceptable. We have always said that we are ready to discuss any issue with Azerbaijan. But we have also honestly made clear that a return to the past is not possible for us.”