(Saturday, January 22)
“Hayots Ashkhar” lashes out at pro-opposition newspapers for exploiting and “gloating” about U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Elizabeth Jones’s reported reference to the Nagorno-Karabakh government as “criminal secessionists.” The pro-establishment paper is also angry at comparisons drawn between the public outcry against Jones’s remark and Soviet-era campaigns of America-bashing. “They want to emphasize that the society does not care about Karabakh … If the Armenian-language press serving the Turkish-Azerbaijani propaganda machine is in demand in our country and the society tolerates this triumph of treason, then we deserve Ms. Jones’s descriptions.”
But “Haykakan Zhamanak,” one of the papers attacked by “Hayots Ashkhar,” insists that the “public fury” at Jones was stage-managed by the Armenian authorities. It says the uproar demonstrates that “Armenia has entered the phase of an eroding autocracy.” “Clearly, many people are glad to return to Soviet times. They think that those who slander America most loudly and are lucky to do that on the Haylur [news program of state television] will get sent to a sanatorium free of charge.” The paper believes in particular that angry statements by doctors from various hospitals were phony and smacked of government propaganda. It also say that regardless of what the U.S. thinks of the Karabakh Armenian leaders, “the fact is that in Karabakh too there is an elite that is accumulating millions [in cash], while ordinary people are on the verge of poverty.” “Was their struggle waged for freedom or a mere of change of the master?”
“Aravot” says parliament deputy Hakob Hakobian, arrested in Dubai on criminal charges, will eventually get out of jail, but the case will leave an “unpleasant trace.” “On the other hand, why shouldn’t it be otherwise? Why should our compatriots going abroad on holiday or on business distinguish themselves in a way different from their behavior in their own country?” The paper says Armenians should have felt ashamed not only now but also when they were electing the “semi-criminal” likes of Hakobian to their parliament.
“Hakob Hakobian didn’t steal his parliamentary mandate, did he?” continues “Aravot.” “He got it in a legal way. And he was helped by those who sold their votes for a bribe, those who carried out falsifications in his favor or, which is possible, those who elected him in good faith.”
“This incident hasn’t particularly surprised anyone in our parliament,” notes “Haykakan Zhamanak.” “And that is natural. For it is difficult to say how many of the 131 deputies and other high-level officials do not have a pickpocket’s mentality, regardless of the millions of dollars on their golden credit cards.”
The situation is really very complicated,” the Armenian consul in the United Arab Emirates, Nane Ghazarian, tells “Haykakan Zhamanak.” “The laws in this country are very strict. Although Hakob Hakobian insists that he is innocent, all three of them must stay in this country until the end of the investigation and the trial.” That could take more than six months, according to Ghazarian.
“Azg” writes that the latest outbreak in tensions between the United States and Iran will add to instability in the South Caucasus. “American threats of a military invasion will inevitably inhibit the regional countries in their bilateral relations with Iran. Attitudes toward Iran will become a benchmark for Washington’s approaches to the neighboring countries.” The paper says Armenia stands to lose the most from this situation.