(Saturday, May 21)
“Opposition activities … are not visible both inside the parliament and outside its walls,” writes “Aravot.” But as a senior member of the Artarutyun bloc, Victor Dallakian, explains to the paper, the opposition will step up its activities in August, ahead of the planned constitutional referendum. That, he says, will be “fateful” for the Armenian government.
“Golos Armenii” likewise notes that this spring has been unusually quiet in Armenia’s political life. “As a result, some oppositionists’ predictions about serious political upheavals are not taken seriously by the vast majority of citizens,” writes the paper.
“Hayots Ashkhar” draws readers’ attention to President Bush’s remark last week that democratic change in the Caucasus and Central Asia is inevitable. The paper claims that Azerbaijan is the next target for a U.S.-backed “revolution” in the region. “The publication of such a statement by George Bush is natural,” Galust Sahakian, a senior member of the Republican Party of Armenia, tells the paper. “The United States has set a task of fostering development of democracy in the post-Soviet space, including the South Caucasus. But in my view, that is already a past phase for Armenia.”
“Aravot” argues against the passage of a government bill that calls for tougher penalties for traffic rule violations. The paper makes the point that senior government officials, parliamentarians, oligarchs and other powerful individuals would continue to disregard traffic lights and speed limits in any case. The traffic police officers know the numbers on their license plates by heart and would not dare stop their cars however high the fines for such violations are, it says.
That is why “Aravot” is highly skeptical about the planned constitutional reform and the latest amendments to Armenia’s laws on elections and rallies. “At the end of the day, our domestic authorities, including the legislative branch, have no reason to be worried about the constitution and the electoral code. Just like in the case of a traffic police inspector, nobody will dare bring to account the incumbent president, a minister or any deputy representing the coalition for breaching the constitution or the electoral code no matter how amended, improved or changed they are.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says the Armenian authorities are under Council of Europe pressure to make the mayor of Yerevan an elected official. “Many of those who oppose the idea argue that an elected mayor of Yerevan, which is home to about half of the country’s population, could undermine the government hierarchy.” The paper says that although such concerns are not totally unfounded, Armenia’s central government does need additional checks and balances.