“168 Zham” quotes the chief executive of Iran’s national gas-exporting company, Alireza Kameli, as saying that Georgia has yet to receive Armenia’s permission to start importing Iranian natural gas through Armenian territory. “In a purely technical sense, there is nothing extraordinary in this statement,” comments the paper. “But on closer inspection this statement shows the political weight of Armenia or, more precisely, the absence of it in global and regional processes.” The paper says that in fact Kameli referred to Russia’s, not Armenia’s, permission.
“Zhamanak” claims, for its part, that Armenia is “taking no steps” to increase gas imports from Iran which it thinks would be cheaper than Russian gas supplies. The paper says that intensive Armenian-Iranian gas talks could force Russia to lower its gas price for Armenia. “Armenia has become a branch of [the Russian energy giant] Gazprom,” it claims. “It has requested [a lower Russian gas price] and is quietly waiting [for a Russian answer] because Gazprom can not only refuse but also raise the gas price.”
Hrant Bagratian, an opposition parliamentarian, tells “Hraparak” that major Armenian opposition parties have responded positively to his calls for their “consolidation” in advance of next year’s parliamentary elections. “Everyone has started thinking about that,” says Bagratian. “Many have also previously thought about that. Our contacts will continue for another two or three months … I want to thank everyone for their reaction.”
“Aravot” criticizes the Armenian government’s decision to tighten regulations for imports and sales of medicines in Armenia. The paper says that the government is primarily interested in collecting more taxes from pharmacies, rather than curtailing corrupt practices. It says that many businesses will simply be unable to comply with some of the new requirements introduced by the government.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” expects the government’s tax revenue shortfall to increase this year. “Despite this, the government is continuing to make illogical expenses from the state budget,” the paper says. It points to government plans to allocate just over $1 million in additional funding for a luxurious “training center” for Armenian tax and customs officials currently constructed in the resort town of Dilijan.