“Aravot” reacts to a scandalous revelation that the press secretaries of several Armenian government agencies discussed in a closed Facebook group the possibility of blacklisting some journalists disliked by them. The paper says that although relations between government spokespersons and reporters have never been perfect it is totally wrong to penalize the latter for critical reports about relevant government agencies. “A civil servant must stay away from such emotions and provide their services to all beneficiaries, regardless of their political views and their attitudes towards a particular agency and its head,” it says in an editorial.
“The spokespersons’ talk of blacklists is disgraceful,” Ashot Melikian, chairman of the Committee to Protect Freedom of Speech, tells “Hraparak.” “I think that if they have really done such a thing they must be held accountable. All of them. If they didn’t like a particular report they should have exercised their right to respond [to a corresponding media outlet,] rather than have a grudge and draw up a so-called blacklist. I consider that unprofessional.” Melikian also reminds those officials that under an Armenian freedom of information law they must answer journalists’ questions within five days. “So these discriminatory attitudes towards media outlets are simply unacceptable and run counter to spokespersons’ duties,” he adds.
“Hayots Ashkhar” criticizes the Armenian government’s plans to cut the share of its spending on education in the country’s Gross Domestic Product in the coming years. “We believe that such cost saving is extremely worrying,” comments the paper. “International experience clearly proves that education spending cuts could be disastrous for any country … and that only rising human capital can guarantee future development. There can be nothing worse for Armenia’s future than a reduction in education spending.”