“Hayots Ashkhar” chides the governing Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) for its desire to appoint a number of deputy ministers in addition to controlling three ministries. One of its coalition partners, the Republican Party, is against the idea. The paper agrees with the Republicans, saying that the selection of vice-ministers on a partisan basis may contradict Armenia’s “state interests.” “The existing principle of forming government will inevitably provoke a conflict of interests over time, as a result of which a minister might get reprimanded by his party or thanked by the government and vice versa for the same action,” it argues. “If the coalition decides to appoint senior executives of government structures on a partisan basis, it will lead bureaucrats to join the ranks of governing parties en masse.”
But as the leader of Dashnaktsutyun’s parliamentary faction, Levon Mkrtchian, argues in a “Hayots Ashkhar” interview, the three coalition parties assumed collective responsibility for the government’s work and must therefore be represented in the executive accordingly. Mkrtchian says the holders of the posts of deputy minister technically are not civil servants and may well be chosen by politicians.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that a former member of Armenia’s Central Election Commission who was until recently affiliated with the opposition National Democratic Union (AZhM) has been given a senior government post. Pavel Yedigarian was expelled from the AZhM after unexpectedly endorsing the official results of the May parliamentary elections which the opposition believes were rigged. He will now serve as a deputy head of the government’s Committee On State Property Management. (Incidentally, the privatization agency is run by another former AZhM leader, David Vartanian.) “That Yedigarian will be offered a post was clear months ago because he provided serious services to the authorities,” the paper comments. “While being the CEC’s only opposition member, Yedigarian chose to ignore the whole farce which was registered during the 2003 presidential and parliamentary elections.”
“Aravot,” meanwhile, discusses the fate of Gyumri’s “eccentric” mayor, Vartan Ghukasian, who continues to defy a central government decision that banned him from distributing new apartments to the victims of the 1988 earthquake.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says the escalating tensions inside the governing coalition follow a scenario envisaged by President Robert Kocharian. He will increasingly be asked by the three parties to act as an “arbiter.” “The deepening of the tensions strengthens Kocharian’s power,” the paper claims. “Kocharian, who has brilliantly overcome inner-government intrigues, has understood very well that he must primarily be protected against those people who have power and levers.”
According to “Ayb-Fe,” it is only Kocharian supporters and Diaspora Armenians who see things improving in Armenia. But the lot of ordinary people has hardly improved in recent years. On the contrary, the latest increase in bread prices has made them poorer. They will pay more for electricity and other basic utilities starting next year. “Unlike the rank-and-file citizens of Armenia, the Diaspora Armenians can afford enjoying themselves in cafes, which they do with great pleasure. And if you sit in one of the cafes near the Opera [building in Yerevan], you will surely not notice how that café distorts the Opera’s appearance and splendor. Only those who do not sit there can notice that. Namely, the rank-and-file citizens of Armenia who, in this case, play the role of outside observers.”