(Saturday, January 25)
“168 Zham” believes that a Constitutional Court injunction issued on Friday will only temporarily halt a controversial reform of Armenia’s pension system. The paper argues that President Serzh Sarkisian strongly defended the reform the same day, calling it “historic.” “Thus, yesterday’s decision by the Constitutional Court is only a tactical step aimed at mitigating or neutralizing the wave of anger against this reform,” it says. The authorities, it says, hope that opponents of the reform will now be less willing to attend street protests in Yerevan.
“Hraparak” also thinks that the authorities are simply stalling for time. “The public is not fooled, the struggle still lies ahead,” the paper says, citing leaders of the protest movement. It predicts that the Constitutional Court will likely reject an opposition appeal against the unpopular measure in late March.
“Zhamanak” draws parallels between the court order and the Yerevan municipal administration’s decision last July to freeze a sharp increase in public transport fees. “The municipal authorities are still looking for an opportune moment [to again raise the fees,]” says the paper. “By the same token, there is no doubt that the authorities have retreated and are now waiting in order to push the pension reform forward.”
“Zhoghovurd” says that the latest meeting of the Armenian and Azerbaijani foreign ministers did not help to ease tensions on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and the “line of contact” around Nagorno-Karabakh. The paper blames Azerbaijan for the latest bout of fighting there, criticizing the mediating powers for urging both conflicting parties to honor the ceasefire. “There is a growing sense that negotiations have lost their meaning and impact,” it says. “The situation continues to get out of hand.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” describes as “unprecedented” government data showing that the volume of retail trade in Armenia last December was down from the same period in 2012. The paper says this is further proof of a “continuing decline in the purchasing power of our citizens.”