“Aravot” says is no real consolidation of political parties going on in Armenia at the moment. The paper says that there is only an “incorporation of non-existent parties into those parties that have high chances of being represented in the National Assembly.” Only three such forces -- the Republican Party (HHK), the Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) and the Armenian National Congress (HAK) -- can be certain about winning parliament seats in the next elections, editorializes the paper.
HHK deputy Hovannes Sahakian tells “Kapital” that President Serzh Sarkisian’s self-critical statements on problems existing in Armenia are more important than reports released by Human Rights Watch and other international bodies. “Our job is to further improve the lives of our people, their socioeconomic plight,” says Sahakian. He also criticizes another watchdog, Freedom House, for describing Nagorno-Karabakh as a “not free” territory.
Another HHK parliamentarian, Eduard Sharmazanov, assures “Hayots Ashkhar” that the ruling party is not afraid of losing votes because of recent price increases and unpopular government decisions. “Naturally, the existing socioeconomic problems can not fail to worry us,” he says. “Regardless of pre-election realities, as a political force responsible for government, we are doing everything to implement social reforms with maximally quick and visible results.”
“The authorities are not stupid and they realize that banning street trade or raising customs duties for goods imported from China and Turkey will provoke a powerful wave of protests,” writes “Chorrord Inknishkhanutyun.” “If they took such steps while realizing that, it means they found no other ways out. Why couldn’t they get oligarchs’ businesses out of the shadow [economy] instead? Because that wouldn’t change things much.” The paper argues that a crackdown on tax evasion among importers and large-scale retailers would have forced their owners to raise prices of foodstuffs and consumer goods. “That would have given rise to hyperinflation, and people’s living standards would have dropped,” it says.
In an interview with “168 Zham,” Aram Safarian, the secretary of the BHK’s parliament faction, Russia is more influential in the South Caucasus than the United States and France, the two other co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group. That is why, he says, the Russians have taken the lead in the international mediation of the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process. “I think that Russia will push forward that role in the course of this year,” says Safarian, adding that both Armenia and Azerbaijan as well as Western powers will not object to that.