(Saturday, September 17)
“Within three or four days [from his appointment as prime minister] Karen Karapetian managed to pick a fight with both the Republican (HHK) political team and Dashnaktsutyun,” writes “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun.” “Republicans were the first to make noise, trying to ‘edit’ Karapetian’s remark that the economic situation in Armenia is ‘extremely grave.’ Then at his first cabinet meeting, Karen Karapetian reprimanded [Economy Minister] Artsvik Minasian in quite strong terms, provoking an equally tough response from [Dashnaktsutyun leader] Armen Rustamian.”
The paper says that these episodes do not mean that Karapetian’s premiership will be short-lived. “After all, nobody believes that Karen Karapetian was summoned to fight against corruption and tax evasion,” it says. “Why would the authorities bring in someone from abroad to fight against them?”
“Zhoghovurd” notes that the day before Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian’s resignation Rustamian told the Yerkir Media TV channel that President Serzh Sarkisian is unlikely to change his government without consulting with Dashnaktsutyun, his junior coalition partner. “It emerged later that Serzh Sarkisian had nothing to say to anyone,” comments the paper. It quotes another Dashnaktsutyun leader, Hrant Markarian, as saying that the party was informed about Abrahamian’s replacement by Karapetian in advance.
“Karen Karapetian has clearly received a blank check from Serzh Sarkisian,” writes “Haykakan Zhamanak.” In particular, the paper says, Karapetian has been authorized to crack down on any of Armenia’s de facto economic monopolies. “Why did Serzh Sarkisian do that?” it asks. “An optimistic answer would be that he really wants to put an end to, say, the monopoly on sugar imports to Armenia. But the realistic answer is that Serzh Sarkisian thinks that Karen Karapetian will simply be unable to do that because he lacks the qualities necessary for that.” Sarkisian believes that Karapetian will last for only six or seven months as prime minister, speculates the paper.
“Aravot” says that the salaries of Armenian ministers and other senior government officials should be raised significantly “so that they become dependent on only the state budget.” “There is no other way of attracting decent individuals and competent specialists,” the paper explains in an editorial. It says that the extra funds need for such wage rises can be raised through a “drastic reduction in the number of ministries and other agencies.” “In Switzerland, for example, there are only seven ministries, and that country does not seem to suffer from bad governance,” it says.