“Haykakan Zhamanak” says the confirmation of Richard Hoagland, the new U.S. ambassador-designate to Armenia, by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was natural, arguing that its members were guided by U.S. national interests. The paper says the crisis in the Middle East and over Iran’s nuclear program is making it imperative for the United States to have an ambassador in Yerevan.
“We understand and appreciate the struggle waged by our compatriots in the USA against attempts to appoint a new ambassador in place of John Evans,” comments “Hayots Ashkhar.” “But any struggle is effective only within a certain period and form. The friendly Armenian-American relations must develop and deepen regardless of who will be the American ambassador to our country. Therefore such [Armenian-American] discontent must have its beginning and its end. For Armenia it is extremely important to maintain the current progressing nature of bilateral relations and make sure that nobody turns the issue of change of the U.S. ambassador into a serious diplomatic scandal.”
“Each of us can stick to the belief that John Evans was the best the U.S. ambassador to Armenia,” continues “Hayots Ashkhar.” “But everyone must at the same time realize that we are not the ones who pick foreign ambassadors.”
“Iravunk” reports on renewed consultations among Armenian opposition parties which it says could result in the launch of an “anti-criminal movement or front.” The paper cites opposition sources as saying that human rights and other non-governmental organizations might join the initiative later on. It says opposition leaders also count on the backing of “international structures” who too are worried about the increased role of criminal elements in Armenia.
“Aravot” sees a clear link between the approaching elections and an upsurge in high-profile killings in the country. “Because in this pre-election struggle money is the goal, now is the time to accumulate money and power and to distribute and re-distribute those resources before decisive battles,” editorializes the paper. “The money is used for vote bribes, while power is needed for making administrative levers and local criminal groups serve one’s own interests.” Shootings and attacks on journalists are inevitable in these circumstances, says the paper.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that the investigation into the killing of senior tax official Shahen Hovasapian is led by Armenia's National Security Service. “The theory that Hovasapian’s killing may be the result of intra-government or, more precisely, intra-clan clashes seems the most realistic one,” says the paper. It refers to Hovasapian as the “shadow head of the State Taxation Service.”
“Azg” speculates that ArmenTel’s intention to drastically raise fixed-line phone charges in Armenia is part of its parent company OTE’s efforts to sell the company at a higher price. “In all likelihood, the Greek company has decided to make ArmenTel more attractive [to bidders] and demand the highest possible price from the buyer,” writes the paper.