“Aravot” says that the Armenian authorities are “seriously thinking” about finding alternatives to the overland link between Georgia and Russia. Arsen Ghazarian, chairman of Armenia’s Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, is quoted as saying that it is small and medium-sized Armenian companies engaged in import and export operations that are bearing the brunt of the Russian blockade. The past month has been “very devastating” for them, Ghazarian says.
“Hayots Ashkhar” finds the heated political debates about how to elect Armenia’s future parliaments of secondary importance to democratization and free elections. “We don’t care how many of them will get into the parliament from party lists and majoritarian districts. What would that change in our life?” Many of the deputies elected in the single-mandate constituencies may have bribed their way into the National Assembly. But it doesn’t mean that Armenian parties are using more honest methods of political struggle, says the paper. “The notion that the quality of the parliamentarian corps depends on the electoral system is wrong and demagogic.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that the Armenian Apostolic Church has reacted negatively to the official registration of Jehovah’s Witnesses in Armenia. The spokesman for Catholicos Garegin II, Rev. Vahram Melikian, tells the paper that the religious group is “anti-Christian” and “has nothing to do with our history, independence, mentality, aspirations, wishes and dreams.” Melikian also calls for urgent amendments to the Armenian law on religious organizations that would further tighten rules for the activities of such sects.
But “Haykakan Zhamanak” believes that the church should do a better job of meeting the spiritual needs of Armenians instead of fighting against non-traditional faiths. “After all, the Armenian Apostolic Church must look for ways of becoming more attractive to people,” it says.
“Hayots Ashkhar” notes that unlike recent allegations about the presence of homosexuals in Armenia’s government, the registration of Jehovah’s Witnesses did not cause a stir in the country. The paper is strongly against the legalization of “this totalitarian sect,” claiming that its activities are restricted in “a powerful country like France.” It wonders if Jehovah’s Witnesses have followers among Armenian officials.
“You can not beat religious totalitarianism by not registering one or another organization,” counters “Aravot.” “Please let Jehovah’s Witnesses live freely in our country in accordance with their faith. But if their faith comes into conflict with our country’s legislation then the law must definitely take precedence.”
“The most intolerant religious community active in Armenia has been registered by the Justice Ministry,” “Azg” declares alarmingly. But the paper says there is at least one good thing about that. “From now on, it will be possible to force it by legal means to act within the framework of Armenia’s laws.”