President Serzh Sarkisian’s unexpected visit to a small park in Yerevan and his order to remove small shops controversially constructed there by the municipal government make headlines in Wednesday’s Armenian newspapers.
“Clearly Serzh Sarkisian thus tried to exploit the situation in Mashtots Park for his own propaganda purposes,” comments “Zhamanak.” “But at the same time he tried to save Mayor Taron Markarian’s face and score points at the expense of park activists, rather than Markarian.” The paper goes on to claim that Sarkisian’s order only “exacerbated the Mashtots Park problem.” “The thing is that the activists have raised the issue of not only dismantling the kiosks but the legality of their placement there,” it explains. “And Serzh Sarkisian is circumventing that issue and, so to speak, trying base the dismantling on aesthetic grounds.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” welcomes the fact that the head of state personally intervened in the dispute. The pro-presidential paper agrees with Sarkisian’s remark that the kiosks built in the park are “not quite nice.” The president’s stance will have a “galvanizing effect” on the population, it says.
“Yerkir” notes with sarcasm that Sarkisian’s “aesthetic taste” proved more decisive that the arguments of civic activists campaigning for the kiosks’ removal. “Mashtots Park will be freed from the kiosks but the mayor will hardly avoid criticisms because it is now evident to everyone that the president’s taste is worth more than all those legal and legislative arguments that the municipality sages have presented in the last few months in an extremely ‘scientific’ manner,” the paper writes. It also dismisses official assurances that Sarkisian’s intervention had nothing to do with his Republican Party’s parliamentary election campaign.
“Of course, it would have been much better if the president had not interfered in such issues and if the issue had been solved on the legal plane,” editorializes “Aravot.” “You just can’t build boots in a central park and get away with that. By the same token, it would have been much better if the political prisoners had been acquitted by court, rather than pardoned by the president … But the vices, to put it mildly, of our state system necessitate the resolution of such issues from the upper echelons [of government.] In any case the end result is the most important thing. There will be no shops in Mashtots Park.”
“Even if we assume that this was a pre-planned theatrical show [by Sarkisian,] it means that the authorities are making efforts to appear with a humane face and are not afraid of meeting the public’s demand and bowing to popular pressure,” writes “Hraparak.” “It means that they attach importance to the public’s opinion and are doing everything to please it, especially in the run-up to the elections.”