(Saturday, November 12)
“Hayots Ashkhar” accuses Azerbaijan of again heightening tensions along the Line of Contact around Nagorno-Karabakh ahead of fresh peace talks planned by the U.S., Russian and French co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group. The paper also says: “In order to start a large-scale war, Baku needs to secure the backing of not only Turkey but also a world power, something which it does not have at the moment.” It says that the Azerbaijani military now finds it much harder to launch commando raids on Karabakh Armenian positions because they are now much better equipped. “And finally, because of the decreased oil price, the economic situation in Azerbaijan keeps deteriorating,” concludes the paper.
“Zhoghovurd” quotes a senior Karabakh official, Davit Babayan, as saying that Azerbaijani forces are “simply firing” from small arms and mortars these days. “The number of ceasefire violations is much smaller now than two or three years ago,” he says. “The enemy suffered many casualties during the April  war. It failed to execute its criminal plan of extermination and will find it very hard to recover.”
“Aravot” comments on the Armenian government’s plans to introduce a new tax that will finance higher payouts to be paid to the families of soldiers killed or maimed in action. “Should we help the families of soldiers who were killed or became disabled during hostilities? Yes, we should,” editorializes the paper. “But what about Syrian Armenians? What about those living in shacks in the earthquake zone [in northwestern Armenia?] What about pensioners living on 50,000 drams [a month?] And shouldn’t we build the North-South road and the Iran-Armenia railway?”
“Aravot” says that all these projects require additional government funding. It believes that the government should primarily raise property tax for the rich, rather than target less well-to-do taxpayers, in order to finance them. The paper also says that many Armenians will make voluntary contributions to such programs if they are confident that their money will not pocketed or misused by government officials.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that the international price of copper, a key Armenian export item, has gone up sharply of late. “If this price remains unchanged then taxes to be paid by our mining companies will increase from the beginning of next year,” explains the paper. “On the other hand, a renewed fall in oil prices going on for the last three weeks has already resulted in a weakening of the Russian ruble. This in turn is reflecting negatively on our compatriots living off remittances [from Russia] as well as our companies exporting their goods to Russia.”