(Saturday, December 19)
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that the Armenian government has failed to draw up an export promotion strategy contrary to promises made by Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian. The paper says Sarkisian has held an emergency meeting with senior government officials to express his displeasure with this fact and complain about their “lack of intellect.” He threatened to entrust the Central Bank of Armenia (CBA) with developing the document before it emerged that the CBA too is unable to do that. In the end, says the paper, Sarkisian said the task will be given to a international business consultancy.
“Chorrord Inknishkhanutyun” adds its voice to opposition media concerns about amendments Armenian legislation drafted by the three parties represented in the country’s governing coalition. Those would decriminalize libel and significantly toughen fines for defamation of character. The paper says the authorities have realized that jailing a journalist would be a “serious headache” for them and that it would be much easier to muzzle a media outlet with hefty fines.
“Hayots Ashkhar” sees nothing wrong with the failure by the Monitoring Committee of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) to discuss the political situation in Armenia at its latest meeting in Paris late last week. The paper says that at least one of the PACE’s two Armenia rapporteurs, John Prescott, was physically unable to attend the meeting because of representing the PACE at the climate change summit in Copenhagen. It suggests that the other rapporteur, Georges Colombier, will also present “some reasonable explanation” for his absence from the Paris meeting. Therefore, concludes the paper, the Armenian opposition is wrong to claim that the Council of Europe has become even more lenient towards the Armenian authorities because of their Western-backed foreign policy.
“168 Zham” reports that the two opposition members of the now defunct Fact-Finding Group of Experts will release early next year yet another report on the March 2008 deadly clashes in Yerevan. The paper says the report will contain video of their group members’ interviews of top security officials.
“Kapital” reports on tightening competition in Armenia’s telecommunications sector, which is translating into tariff cuts and new services offered by the country’s three mobile phone operators. “The high level of transparency in the market for mobile communication is forcing the operators to compete also in facilitating access to the Internet,” writes the business daily. “A niche which contains a very large space for expansion.”