Writing on the 28th anniversary of Armenia’s catastrophic 1988 earthquake, “Haykakan Zhamanak” expects more empty government pledges to rebuild the country’s northern regions devastated by it. “They will say that a lot has been accomplished but some work still needs to be done there,” says the paper. “They will say that they will make every effort to eliminate all consequences of the calamity. A lot has indeed been done in the earthquake zone in the last 28 years. But the consequences of the earthquake have not been eliminated.” It says that housing construction alone would not address the problem as the area has been suffering from very high unemployment.
Citing a local non-governmental organization, “Zhoghovurd” says that as many as 3,000 families still live in dilapidated buildings, rundown hostels and other temporary shelters in Gyumri. The paper says that government-funded housing construction there was largely halted four years ago. It recalls that President Serzh Sarkisian pledged to fully rebuild this and other earthquake-ravaged communities when he ran for president in 2008. “But the fact is that about 15,000 people still have inadequate housing,” it says.
“Virtually all state officials in Armenia, from Serzh Sarkisian to the Diaspora minister, are now busy looking for money,” writes “Zhamanak.” “They call on Diaspora Armenians to open cash deposits in Armenian banks. There is no longer any talk of patriotic programs, objectives or other things.”
“Hraparak” reports that Hrant Bagratian, a parliament deputy and a former prime minister, responded angrily when he was asked whether he would like to join an alliance of three opposition parties -- Hanrapetutyun, Bright Armenia and Civil Contract -- which could be formed in the coming weeks. “Why don’t you ask them?” Bagratian is quoted as saying. He complains that those parties ignored his February 2016 attempt to set up a new opposition bloc.