(Saturday, March 13)
“Armenia is lucky to have such a president.” “Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” uses this quote from Mikhail Saakashvili as a headline to its story on the Georgian president’s visit to Armenia.
“Hayots Ashkhar” likewise agrees with Saakashvili in that “the Georgians have a lot to learn from us.” The paper also takes note of Saakashvili’s “sharp” and seemingly “emotional” rejection of any autonomy for Javakheti. It comments that the Georgian leader has been entrusted by the West with a mission to promote the mutual integration of the three South Caucasus states and put an end to their dependence on Russia. “Thus in Saakashvili we are dealing not with a Georgian nationalist or even Georgia’s president, but with the coordinator of American policy in the South Caucasus.” His chances of successes are slim, according to the pro-presidential daily.
Saakashvili’s pledge to emulate the Armenian security and defense agencies draws a sarcastic response from “Aravot” which says the only difference between the two countries is that Georgian traffic police extort bribes from motorists at the gunpoint while their Armenian counterparts “silently beg for money on the street.” The paper says the same is true for the entire state apparatus. “After all, nobody is robbed in our country. People and private companies themselves willingly pay ‘fees’ [to corrupt government officials]. So Kocharian will teach Saakashvili how to create a system in which the people voluntarily put bribes into the pockets of bureaucrats and police officers.”
More importantly, “Aravot” continues, the Armenian experience will be extremely valuable for Saakashvili if he wants to win a second term in office at any cost five years from now, when popular euphoria with the new Georgian leadership will be gone. “On the issue of ‘reelection’ our president is a really invaluable interlocutor for Saakashvili.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” complains that instead of embracing Kocharian’s latest political slogan of improving “the quality of life,” members of Armenia’s governing coalition continue to bicker with each other and make separate overtures to the opposition. “The impression is that the government elite implementing state policy is not averse to using dividends from power levers, leaving the burden of responsibility, criticism and especially slander on the shoulders of the state’s number one or two and three figures. As a result, no state body or a high-ranking official in this country bears responsibility for anything. Instead, it is the country’s president who is responsible for everything before everyone.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” publishes a second list of individuals who it say remain under the “constant” surveillance of security services. Most of them are affiliated with the country’s main opposition parties.