(Saturday, November 5)
“Zhamanak” dismisses major reforms announced by Armenia’s newly reshuffled government, saying that President Serzh Sarkisian and his political allies have simply started preparing for next April’s parliamentary elections. “The reduction in the prices of gas and electricity is wonderful and welcome,” writes the paper. “So is the decision to channel all proceeds from fines imposed for driving and parking violations into the state budget. There is no question about that. The problem is that this alone is not a reform. This is a mere crisis management which is conducted by Serzh Sarkisian and Karen Karapetian in order to stop the situation from getting out of control.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” also reacts to the impending electricity and gas price cuts. “The [electricity] tariff will likely go down on February 1, 2017,” writes the paper. “But the interesting thing is that the same [Public Services Regulatory] Commission has not yet determined the new, lower gas tariff. In theory, it may reject Gazprom-Armenia’s [price cut] application. The reasons for the PSRC’s largesse are a separate matter. We can only note that when Russia lowered the price of gas for Armenia just a few months ago, the commission did not even consider cutting the tariff for big consumers and the Gazprom-Armenia distributor has since made huge additional profits as a result … This shows that the tariff cuts are only politically motivated and related to the upcoming parliamentary elections.”
“Zhoghovurd” reports that Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian accused Azerbaijan of refusing to comply with confidence-building agreements with Armenia reached earlier this year during a visit to Germany. Nalbandian also told German officials and pundits that Baku is again trying to heighten tensions along “the line of contact” around Nagorno-Karabakh. The paper welcomes his statements, saying that Yerevan is right to warn the international community of another possible escalation of the situation in the Karabakh conflict zone in advance.
“Aravot” says that presumption of innocence must not apply to those state officials in Armenia who are suspected of illegal self-enrichment. “In that case, they must prove that the sources of their wealth are legal,” editorializes the paper. It argues that there is a corresponding clause in a United Nations convention against corruption around the world.