Armenian newspapers continue to comment on President Serzh Sarkisian’s emergency meeting with senior state officials that focused on the latest increases in the prices of some essential products in Armenia.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” again calls the meeting “weird,” pointing to official statistics which show that consumer price inflation in Armenia remains low. The National Statistical Service (NSS) reported this week that annual inflation stood at 2.6 percent in 2017. “So there is supposedly no reason, situation or condition that should make one worry,” writes the paper. “But, as you can see, Serzh Sarkisian was so concerned that he convened the meeting. It means that either the statistical data is not credible or there are internal political issues at play: for instance, an anticipation of mass protests.”
“Zhamanak” says what caught observers’ attention the most was not Sarkisian’s comments on the need to rein in prices but his calls for increasing public spending on social programs “in the second half of the year.” “That statement has been construed as yet another indication of his prime-ministerial ambitions,” writes the paper. It says that this is not the first time that Sarkisian spoke of what the government should do months or even years after the end of his final presidential term.
“There was a tradition in Soviet times: if the [Communist Party] Politburo planned to change something in the country it made sure that that happened at the urging of the working masses,” writes “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun.” “In Armenia, that is done a bit differently. But the logic is the same. That is why the authorities and the parliamentary opposition have ‘coincidentally’ been busy doing the same thing since the beginning of the new year: they are fighting against corruption. Serzh Sarkisian held a meeting on that issue, while the Yelk alliance is going to stage a protest rally. In both cases, the path of achieving the declared goal is uncertain. Yelk is not saying how the rally will affect prices, while Serzh Sarkisian is not saying just how he will curb inflation and is only issuing general orders.”