The past weekend provided Armenian papers with enough time to digest statements made by President Kocharian at his news conference on Friday. The tone of commentaries is mainly set by their political orientations.
“Golos Armenii” trusts the credibility of Kocharian’s claims that he has delivered on his promise to create 40,000 new jobs this year. The publication of the figure is a damning verdict to Kocharian’s opponents whom the Russian-language paper brands as “political losers.” “That figure marks the start of the post-HHSh phase of our modern history,” it concludes.
The pro-opposition “Aravot” finds it “meaningless” to debate the veracity of employment data cited by Kocharian. The paper concentrates on what it says was the main message delivered by Kocharian: “Let nobody think that he needs constitutional changes. He doesn’t need them at all. Furthermore, [according to Kocharian] restrictions on presidential authority can be damaging given the existence of the Nagorno-Karabakh problem and the current complicated geopolitical situation.” So Kocharian is telling the public that his intention to curtail presidential powers is a generous gesture of good will.
“Iravunk” does not believe in Kocharian’s sincerity. The paper says the president is not doing Armenians a favor by pushing for the passage of his constitutional amendments as they will in no way curb his sweeping powers. Quite the opposite. Kocharian will gain 18 new powers if his constitutional package is approved at a referendum. With his harsh attacks on the alternative draft constitution put forward by the opposition Kocharian revealed that his number one foe is “moderate political forces united around a constructive idea.” It is thus reasonable to expect a “fierce political struggle” on the constitutional front in the months to come, “Iravunk” concludes.
“Azg” also thinks that Kocharian’s sharp words directed at the opposition will stoke political tensions in the country. Kocharian threatened to block the opposition efforts to push the alternative draft through the parliament. The opposition faction realize that they can not secure a two thirds majority in the National Assembly to force a referendum on their constitutional initiative. They will instead try to scuttle the parliament’s widely expected approval of Kocharian’s amendments.
“Aravot” reports that Kocharian’s comments came under attack on Monday from the leaders of the opposition Hanrapetutyun party who met with their supporters in the central Aragatsotn province. Hanrapetutyun’s Bazeyan denounced Kocharian for strongly objecting to the idea of Armenians being able to choose between two versions of constitutional reform. “The people must have a choice,” he said. Bazeyan and former prime minister Aram Sarkisian also said the employment figures are untrue.
Prosecutor-General Aram Tamazian tells “Zhamanak” that the situation with crime in Armenia is “stable and controlled” by law-enforcement authorities. But Tamazian admits that police and the prosecutor’s office have not yet succeeded in rooting out armed criminal groups despite the overall low crime rate. “Unfortunately there still exist criminal gangs that dupe people to break into their apartments and burglarize them,” he says.