“Aravot” criticizes the head of the European Union delegation in Armenia, Raul de Luzenberger, for claiming that the Armenian government has made real progress towards bringing the country’s political and economic systems into conformity with EU standards. Speaking at a seminar in Yerevan on Wednesday, Luzenberger suggested that that progress may not be “visible” but it is quite significant. “Why are you being so modest, Mr. Ambassador?” the paper asks tartly in an editorial. “It is very visible. People are kept in prisons for their political activities; policemen beat deputies on the street; as a result of changes made in the law on television and radio, the number of TV stations has decreased. And thanks to another pro-European law that decriminalized libel, oligarchs gain huge sums [in compensatory damages] from newspapers. Thanks to all this, we can feel just how closer we move to Europe every day.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” says the outcry in Azerbaijan against Nagorno-Karabakh President Bako Sahakian’s visit to France demonstrates that he took a “right and promising step.” The paper says such trips could help to counter Azerbaijani efforts to drive the Karabakh Armenians out of the negotiating process. “Bako Sahakian’s visit to Paris was marked by serious clarifications on the Karabakh issue made by the French diplomacy,” it says, adding that the Karabakh leader should visit more major Western capitals.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” dismisses as “ludicrous” government plans to impose price caps on basic foodstuffs and thereby curb inflation. “For instance, if the prices of sugar or butter go up not by 30 percent but by 29.9 percent, what will government do?” says the opposition daily. “Or if a food product becomes more expensive by 30 percent but within 31 days and not 30 days, what will the government do? Or if the price of wheat rises by 50 percent in the international market, what should wheat importers do?” The paper speculates that the measure may be a prelude to a drastic depreciation of the Armenian dram, which would only add to inflationary pressures on the economy.
“Chorrord Inknishkhanutyun” reports Armenia was ranked 136th out of 139 countries covered in an international survey on domestic competitiveness. Its anti-trust legislation has also received poor ratings. “This means there is absolutely no internal [economic] competition in Armenia while its anti-trust laws are mere pieces of paper about which nobody cares,” comments the opposition daily.