“Zhamanak” reacts to reports that Azerbaijan is planning to increase its defense and security spending next year by 6 percent to $1.7 billion. The paper says this must be another incentive for the new Armenian government to combat corruption. It says that Armenia can offset the impact of Azerbaijan’s oil and gas revenues only with good governance. This makes recent weeks’ criminal proceedings against former and serving military officials all the more important, it says.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” also stresses the need to address misuse and embezzlement of public funds allocated to defense. The paper points to a revelation by the Hetq.am publication that from 2015-2017 the Armenian Defense Ministry bought canned meat for soldiers from one private company at inflated prices. “The problem is that the real value of such preserves supplied to the Defense Ministry is much lower,” it says. “All Defense Ministry procurements of the past years need to be examined and the damage inflicted [on the state] must fully be reversed.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” laments a lack of “serious response” from the Armenian government to Azerbaijani Defense Minister Zakir Hasanov’s announcement that the Azerbaijani army is ready to liberate Azerbaijan’s “occupied territories.” The paper says such statements coming from Baku are an “extremely serious challenge to not only Armenia but also the international community.”
“Past” comments on recent days’ reports about the Armenian police raiding various businesses and purportedly discovering millions of dollars in unpaid taxes or stolen sums. The paper says the owners of those businesses will find it very hard to prove the legality of huge amounts of cash kept in their homes or offices. “It is terrifying to imagine just how much money has circulated in some circles at a time when the country has been mired in poverty, when its public debt has passed the critical threshold and when the state has for years been unable to raise pensions,” it says.