In its first edition of 2004, “Hayots Ashkhar” subjects to scathing criticism the quality of entertainment programs and shows aired by Armenian television channels during New Year’s and the Christmas holidays. “Nowadays anyone can go on air as easily as to a public toilet,” the paper comments angrily in an editorial. “Very soon we will have a country where the population’s main pastime is cattle breeding, elections and lotteries,” it says.
In a separate commentary, “Hayots Ashkhar” says it would be wrong to think that Georgia has gained an important advantage over its neighbors, including Armenia, with the completion of the transfer of power from deposed President Eduard Shevardnadze to a team of young pro-Western reformers. The pro-presidential paper reiterates its view that there is nothing Armenians can learn from Georgians in terms of democratization. It says the fact that Mikhail Saakashvili was elected president with such an overwhelming majority demonstrates that the 13 post-independence years have been “a lost period of time” for Georgia. “Therefore, the euphoria which is currently reigning in Georgia could quickly turn into discontent or complete desperation degenerating into chaos.”
“Aravot” believes that that euphoria will not last for more than a year and says no candidate can win more than 90 percent of the vote in a free and fair presidential election. “The secret of Saakashvili’s crushing victory is clear and very transparent,” the paper says. “It is hidden in Georgia’s electoral code” that gives Saakashvili and his allies virtually full control over all election commissions. A solution to this problem, according to “Aravot,” is to stop holding any elections in Georgia as well as Armenia and Azerbaijan in the next 50 years. “Let us not deceives ourselves and others and not arouse illusive hopes among the people.” It would be more honest if the presidents of the three nations were openly appointed by either Russia or the United States, the paper concludes.
“Aravot” also reports that a monitoring commission of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) discussed on Wednesday a report that “forgives the Armenian authorities’ sins.” The paper describes the report as a major success for President Robert Kocharian and says PACE officials monitoring the fulfillment of Armenia’s membership obligations failed to take note of objections made by the Armenian opposition.