(Saturday, December 7)
Armenian newspapers comment on Iranian Ambassador Mohammad Reisi’s claims that the Armenian government has never sought to negotiate with Iran over more large-scale supplies of natural gas.
“168 Zham” considers this revelation scandalous, saying that Russia has not allowed the authorities in Yerevan to look for alternative sources of gas. The paper says that the Russians have thus remained in a position to impose any gas price on Armenia and exploit this heavy dependence for political aims.
“In essence, the Republic of Armenia does not make use of an alternative channel of gas imports and continues buying gas from Russia, even though the latter has been consistently raising its price,” writes “Zhoghovurd.” “Instead of serving their country, the Armenian authorities thus cater for Russia’s interests, maintaining Armenia’s gas dependence.”
In an interview with “Zhamanak,” Karapet Rubinian, a veteran opposition politician, praises hundreds of mostly young Armenians who to the streets of Yerevan to protest against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s December 2 visit and Armenia’s accession to the Russian-led Customs Union. Rubinian believes that they somewhat improved Armenia’s international standing “dishonored by the illegitimate regime of Serzh [Sarkisian].” He goes on to condemn the Armenian police for using force against the protest. “The repressions were unprecedented in terms of the number of people taken into police custody,” says Rubinian. “That was probably attributable to the presence of their Russian master.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” carries a front-page editorial on the 25th anniversary of a catastrophic earthquake in northern Armenia that killed some 25,000 and left hundreds of thousands of others homeless. The paper says that the earthquake zone remains an “open wound,” with thousands of families still lacking decent housing. Most of them live in Gyumri. The paper notes that both President Serzh Sarkisian and his predecessor Robert Kocharian have repeatedly promised to rebuild Gyumri and other areas still reeling from the calamity. They have the highest unemployment rates in the country.
“Hraparak” pays tribute to Nelson Mandela, the deceased former president of South Africa, saying he was the kind of national leader which Armenia needs now. The paper believes that an Armenian leader like Mandela would start by stamping out end the country’s culture of political and other intolerance.