Like most Armenian newspapers, “Haykakan Zhamanak” comments on the confusion surrounding the introduction of the payment-per-minute scheme by the ArmenTel national phone operator. The paper describes chances of the enforcement of the new billing system as “fifty-fifty,” pointing to conflicting statements by ArmenTel’s Greek executives and Armenian government officials. The Armenian authorities are solely to blame for the situation, according to the paper. “The authorities have made such an uproar over the per-minute payment as if it wasn’t them who allowed ArmenTel to introduce it.”
The Armenian government’s opinion carries little weight with the Greek-owned monopoly, agrees “Hayots Ashkhar.” It is as negligible as the government’s ten percent share of ArmenTel’s equity. But the authorities must realize that they will see their approval rating go further down if the public perceives them to be impotent against ArmenTel.
The government-controlled “Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” sees a bright outlook for the Armenian economy this year. It calls on skeptics to wait until the end of the year to see that Robert Kocharian has honored his pledge to create 40,000 new jobs.
But as “Iravunk” contends in an editorial, the country’s leadership has lost its touch with reality. “The president of Armenia is trying to persuade us that there are some positive trends at the moment.” Yes, there are, but only for “some government officials.” Life has not become easier even for business people who complain about government harassment more frequently these days. “It is the state apparatus that kills business, impedes development, thwarts job creation and reduces budget revenues in Armenia. If the country’s leaders do not want to see this reality and sponsor arbitrary practices they must quit. If they do want to put some things in order, they should hurry up until even more people flee the country.”
The pro-government “Zhamanak” says the authorities have a vested interest in bringing about tangible economic improvements and achieving foreign policy successes. Those will earn them more political allies and popular support and undermine opposition attempts to “destabilize the political situation.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” compares the radical opposition with sappers planting landmines to “blow up the authorities.” They lack a force that could “launch a decisive offensive after the blasts. The opposition might succeed in causing an “upheaval” but it will not be able to follow it up with other actions.
The future of the Miasnutyun bloc is another topic of the day. “Haykakan Zhamanak” quotes a spokeswoman for the People’s Party of Armenia (HZhK) as saying that the HZhK and the Republicans should officially announce the bloc’s demise. This will have to be followed by the parliament’s dissolution and fresh elections, she says.
That Miasnutyun is “de facto” dead is acknowledged by Republican leader Galust Sahakian, “Aravot” reports. But Sahakian believes that the bloc’s faction in the parliament should continue to exist.