“Iravunk” carries what it describes as a “political horoscope” for this year which combines sarcasm with serious analysis. “A year of hard work or its imitation,” it says. “Favorable for engaging in political activities and participating in demonstrations, gatherings and other undertakings. The political theater will see an unprecedented rebirth. There will be lots of sackings, intrigues and scandals. But in the end, we will avoid major upheavals.” The year will be “difficult” for Robert Kocharian and Serzh Sarkisian. Armenia’s two most powerful men will further strengthen their hold on power if they acquire new allies and pursue “reasonable” policies. Prime Minister Andranik Markarian and his Republican Party will also need new “reliable allies” if they are to remain afloat. 2002 will be a really good year for the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun). More of its senior members will get top government posts.
“Aravot” is concerned with perceived attempts to tarnish the late prime minister Vazgen Sarkisian’s image. The paper accuses the authorities of encouraging slanderous articles indirectly portraying Sarkisian as a corrupt and authoritarian ruler. It says the authorities had better ponder the fact that they have failed to solve any political killing in Armenia.
“Hayots Ashkhar” comments on the growing number of Armenian commercial banks teetering on the verge of collapse, something which it says shows that the Central Bank’s upbeat statements about the country’s banking system are exaggerated. Nine out of 31 banks that operated in Armenia a year ago have either disappeared or are on the brink of bankruptcy. And as the crisis in the Credit Yerevan bank demonstrates, it is not just small banks that are in trouble. Most of the existing banks, the paper continues, are simply unprepared for new economic realities. Much of their profits were made on the lucrative market of short-term treasury bills. But the extremely high yields on the T-bills have tumbled over the past two years, forcing the banks to concentrate on the real sector of the economy.
But some top bankers are optimistic about their business. The chief executive of Artsakhbank tells “Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” Nagorno-Karabakh’s only commercial bank is increasing its capital and sees improving conditions for doing business in Karabakh. Kamo Nersisian says Artsakhbank is intent on giving more loans to small and medium-sized businesses.