“Zhamanak” comments on former Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian’s statement that his Hamakhmbum (Consolidation) party might form an electoral alliance with former Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian and Raffi Hovannisian’s Zharangutyun party. “If Vartan Oskanian confirms such discussions, one should presume that they are at a fairly advance staged,” writes the paper. “If such a tripartite alliance is formed, it will undoubtedly be the number one rival of another opposition alliance comprising the Hanrapetutyun, Civil Contract and Bright Armenia parties, which was set up a few days ago.” The paper speculates that the timing of Oskanian’s statement was not accidental.
“168 Zham” shrugs off an Armenian government bill which will criminalize illegal enrichment of senior state officials. The paper is unhappy with the fact that the law will take effect in June 2017 and have no retroactive effect. “With this law the authorities will legalize all those officials who have illegally enriched themselves for the past 25 years,” it says. “Furthermore, it gives more than six months to all those officials who have not had enough time to enrich themselves as much as they would like to.” The paper claims that all of them have made fortunes illegally.
“Aravot” dismisses pro-Western commentators’ and politicians’ claims that things in Armenia would improve dramatically if it left Russian-led structures and sought membership in the European Union and/or NATO. “First of all, nobody is waiting for us in those Western structures,” writes the paper’s editor. “Secondly, given the unpredictability of Russia, we must be prepared for yet another collapse of that country and have alternatives in mind.” The key issue for Armenia, it says, is values, rather than a foreign policy orientation.
“Being a European has nothing to do with the EU or NATO, let alone the Eurasian Economic Union or the Collective Security Treaty Organization. Armenia must have independent courts, separation of powers, freedom of speech and assembly, real market-based relations, free elections. Is it possible to achieve all this without [joining] the EU and NATO? I think so,” concludes “Aravot.”
“Zhoghovurd” reports that a shortfall in the Armenian government’s 2016 tax revenues will likely total at least 85 billion drams ($176 million). The paper says that it may well exceed 100 billion drams.