(Saturday, January 19)
“Hayots Ashkhar” says President Serzh Sarkisian has always conducted very constructive election campaigns and this presidential race will not be an exception. The pro-presidential paper says that Sarkisian will again put the emphasis on his election manifesto and vision of Armenia’s future. “Furthermore, he usually avoids using his rivals’ failings and counters them only in some cases and, in doing so, always maintains propriety,” it says.
“It is encouraging that the election campaign will last only one month,” writes “Aravot.” “Against such an optimistic background, all one can do is to take pre-election PR steps and counter-steps easy, especially given that they will come without usual aggressiveness,” writes the paper. “Neither those who threaten to make the president meet the fate of [Nicolae] Ceausescu or [Muammar] Gaddafi nor those who castigate opposition troublemakers are taking part in the elections.”
“Zhamanak” scoffs at Sarkisian’s strong praise of the State Revenue Committee (SRC). “This statement demonstrates that Serzh Sarkisian is either absolutely unaware of the SRC’s work or real reforms and modernization in Armenia are not part of his plans,” comments the paper. It claims that the SRC continues to deal with corporate taxpayers in an arbitrary manner. This is especially true for small and medium-sized enterprises lacking government sponsors. “The behavior and mentality of employees at Armenia’s tax and customs bodies has remained the same despite the so-called process of technological modernization and computerization,” says the paper. “In order to know all that, Serzh Sarkisian needs to hold frank meetings with small and medium entrepreneurs, rather than visit the SRC and give ceremonial speeches there.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” dismisses as a pre-election government ploy the announcement on Friday of a new feasibility study on the possible construction of a railway connecting Armenia to Iran. “That this is yet another bluff is evident from the fact that the project estimated at $3 billion was officially launched in a small hotel room,” says the pro-opposition daily. It also says that the feasibility study will be conducted by an obscure company registered in the United Arab Emirates.