Armenian press review (January 28 - February 3)
Armenian media write about the aggravation of differences between President Serzh Sargsyan and Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan during the negotiations on the establishment of another ruling coalition. The press discusses how the ministerial portfolios will be distributed in the government, wonders why the Armenian economy is in worse shape than at the time of the international economic crisis of 2008, and is surprised at the inarticulate speech of the Armenian parliamentary speaker Galust Saakyan.
In the context of the negotiations taking place between the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) and the Armenian Revolutionary Federation Dashnaktsutyun (ARFD) on the creation of another ruling coalition, relations between President Serzh Sargsyan and Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamyan sharply deteriorated. The head of state insists on the transfer of the portfolio of the Minister of Justice to ARFD and the appointment of the MP of this party Artsvik Minasyan as the head of the ministry, the 'Haykakan Zhamanak' newspaper reports, citing its sources.
"However, the Prime Minister does not give up and insists: why should Arpine Hovhannisyan who was brought out from the parliament and appointed as minister be removed from the post now? Abrahamyan is doing everything possible so that Artsvik Minasyan is not in the government, offering to appoint him as the governor of one of the regions. However, the efforts of the head of the cabinet of ministers will clearly not succeed. In his turn, Artsvik Minasyan, in a conversation with our correspondent, stressed: "I do not see myself in a governor's chair." And now, as an intermediate option, the appointment of Minasyan as the Minister of Economy is being considered," the publication writes. It is expected that after the meeting of executive body of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia, a certain clarity in relation to the structural and personnel appointments in the government will be made, the 'Haykakan Zhamanak' newspaper writes.
"As we have learned, in the framework of the negotiations between the RPA and the ARFD, the appointment is being discussed of an MP from the latter, Artsvik Minasyan, as the governor of the Armavir region. The ARFD is in no hurry to comment on this information, and the RPA continues to insist that nothing is clarified yet. We have already reported that the ARFD can obtain the Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and one more ministerial portfolio. According to our sources, in the framework of structural changes, it is planned to split the Ministry of the Territorial Administration and Emergency Situations and transfer one of the two new departments to the ARFD, at the moment it is territorial administration. The party itself will give this portfolio, in all likelihood, to David Lokyan. The ARFD will also receive two gubernatorial seats," the author of the article notes.
The 'Chorrord Ishkhanutyun' newspaper reports: "An MP from the ARFD Armen Rustamyan stated that they know that the authorities have been discredited, and this statement angered republicans. It is not the opinion of Rustamyan that angered them, of course, but the fact that he publicly expressed this view. Like someone does not know that the authorities have been discredited! Currently there is regular bargaining between the RPA and the ARFD, and the statement of Rustamyan must be perceived precisely in this context.
... Armen Rustamyan says that by inviting the ARFD into the coalition, not only does the RPA suffer, since it loses several portfolios, but the ARFD also suffers because, while cooperating with the discredited authorities, it also loses its rating.
The 'Zhamanak' newspaper writes on the same topic: "The disputes between the ARFD and the RPA regarding the lack of ratings are, of course, meaningless. The thing is, a rating no longer means anything for either power. Because a rating implies political responsibility. The power that has political responsibility, for example, will not agree to cooperate with the discredited authorities, and it will try to create another sphere in which it can work and change something, if such a sphere is not present.
... On the other hand, however, it is clear that a crisis of expressions has arisen in the relations between the ARFD and the RPA. It has been several weeks since the coalition discussions were announced, but there is no progress in them. Moreover, both sides accuse each other and exchange mutual reproaches." According to the newspaper, it is obvious that the ARFD and the RPA cannot find a compromise for the creation of a coalition and, perhaps, 'Dashnaktsutyun', on the basis of these considerations, has moved to "emotional" statements.
Yesterday a meeting of the parliamentary faction of 'Prosperous Armenia' Party (PAP) was held, which discussed the issue of its entry into the new ruling coalition, the 'Zhamanak' newspaper writes. "A heated argument broke out at the meeting – so heated that the voices of deputies could be heard even in the corridors of the parliament building. Most members of the faction insist on joining the coalition, but the head of the political force, Naira Zohrabyan, opposes it," the publication notes.
The spring session of the National Assembly (parliament) of Armenia started yesterday with a funny incident, but they alone – the MPs – never figured out what happened, the 'Chorrord Ishkhanutyun' newspaper writes.
"Vice-Speaker of the parliament Eduard Sharmazanov made a mistake and put the agenda of this four-day session forward for approval twice, and the deputies voted for the same issue twice. The first time, the agenda was adopted with 104 votes "for", 4 "against" and 10 "abstain". The second time, 99 people voted "for" the same agenda, 5 "against" and 7 "abstained". Later, one of the old-timer MPs recalled in an interview with the newspaper that a similar thing happened when Armen Khachatrian was the speaker of the National Assembly. At the time, Armen Khachatrian put an international agreement to the vote three times," the newspaper writes.
The editor of the 'Aravot' newspaper writes: "The authorities often act with appeals 'not to politicize' this or that problem. Things reached the point that the speaker of parliament Galust Saakian advised not to politicize legislative initiatives. But keep in mind that the parliament is the authority, which brings together (where should gather) political figures, any word spoken there has a political connotation. That is, in more or less developed countries, MPs speak, criticize, attack, defend and appeal with proposals with only one goal – to prove that their political power can lead citizens to happiness and well-being."
To continue this topic, we read in the '168 Zham' newspaper: "Traditionally, Galust Saakyan, expresses some thoughts several times a day or a week, and journalists are making futile attempts to decipher them, social networks are bursting with contests aimed at the search for meaning in these thoughts. At first glance, it may seem that this situation is related to the personality of Galust Saakyan and the peculiarities of his language thinking, and this is just one of the colorful hues in the life of the National Assembly of Armenia. In fact, however, Galust Saakyan doesn't hold the position of Chairman of the National Assembly by coincidence and not by chance, but naturally and entirely appropriately, since with his incomprehensible and meaningless statements he reflects the activity of the parliament at its best, which can only be qualified as a void."
The President of the World Armenian Congress and the Union of Armenians of Russia, Ara Abrahamyan, as he had promised, arrived in Armenia, 'Hraparak' writes.
"However, while everyone was expecting that he would announce the formation of his party, he is engaged in the organization of the 'All Armenian Award 2016'. Under the high-sounding title 'National unity — the key to collective strength and power', he will present awards for "scientific and creative works," the newspaper writes.
The national debt of Armenia has officially crossed the mark of 5 billion dollars: on December 31st 2015 it amounted to 5.071 billion dollars. The country has never had such debt, the 'Haykakan Zhamanak' newspaper writes.
"Out of this amount, 4.3 billion dollars is external debt, and 461 million dollars is internal debt. What percentage our national debt takes in the gross domestic product is still unknown, because the GDP data will be released only two months later. However, according to preliminary figures, the national debt has already reached half of our GDP.
Last year, at the initiative of the Cabinet of Ministers, there was a change in the law of Armenia 'On state debt', which enhanced the government's options on attracting debt obligations. Previously, the national debt could not exceed 60% of GDP, and after changing, this restriction only applies to government debt. Now its debt is more than 3.8 billion dollars, or 37% of GDP, and it is growing rapidly. Only in December of last year, government debt increased by 254 million dollars, and over the whole of 2015 by almost 0.5 billion dollars," the publication notes.
"For the first time in 35 years, the official number of the permanent population of Armenia amounted to less than 3 million people," 'Zhoghovurd' writes.
"The thing is that according to data published by the National Statistical Service of Armenia, as of January 1st 2016 the permanent population of Armenia amounts to 2 million 998 thousand 600 people. This is in the case, when back in 1979, the number of permanent population of Armenia amounted to more than 3 million 37 thousand people. The migration of the population of Armenia, which began in 2008 at a fast pace, not only didn't stop, but, according to official data, leads to tragic consequences.
And as for the official data on migration, according to the National Statistics Service, 47 thousand 676 citizens have left Armenia in 2015 without returning. Thus, we can note that the average migration rate – 47 thousand people per year – continues to remain. On the other hand, the number of newborns has decreased by 3% over the past year," the newspaper writes.
Although the collapse of international copper prices has stopped, and the price for 1 ton has stabilized at around 4.3 to 4.5 thousand dollars, the position of our companies in the mining industry continues to worsen, 'Haykakan Zhamanak' writes.
"At least two such companies have serious financial problems. The 'Akhtalinsky Mining Plant' can no longer pay salaries to its employees, and the mining and processing enterprise 'Sagamar', located close to Armanis, has not operated for six months already.
According to some reports, the government is discussing the option of budget loans to several companies in the mining sector. However, this option is considered to be risky, because price increases for non-ferrous metals in the next 1-2 years are not forecast, and the representatives of the sphere will not be able to repay these loans," the publication concludes.
"The indicator of transfers received by Armenia in 2015 on the names of natural persons, was the lowest since 2007," 'Zhoghovurd' wrote.
"The thing is that in 2007 the net inflow of non-trade transfers (the positive difference between money received and lost by the country) amounted to 1.058 billion dollars.
And in 2015 the net inflow of transfers amounted to 891 million dollars. It should be noted that since 2007 the volume of transfers has continued to grow. Of course, due to the international crisis of 2009, the volume of transfers decreased again to 929 million dollars, but in the following years the figure started to increase again.
Today, in fact, we can state that Armenia's economy has found itself in a worse condition than at the time of international economic crisis which began in late 2008. And if at the time there was hope that after the global economic crisis the situation would improve, the current situation is unlikely to stabilize in the near future," the newspaper concludes.
We read in the '168 Zham' newspaper: "Today is the Day of the Army, but not only the army, because in some way this day can be considered as the Day of State, since in the conditions of a nominal presence but actual inactivity of other state institutions, the army became, maybe not the only, but certainly one of the most important structures. As for the pathos, it has always sounded and will be sounded. In addition to raising the military-patriotic spirit, its aim is also the "glossing over" of perverse events that take place in the Armed Forces," the author concludes.
The 'Chorrord Ishkhanutyun' newspaper writes: "Swine flu is raging in the region. In Armenia, 18 people have died from the consequences of the disease, and the authorities refused to provide free treatment to people who have the flu. The question is not whether it is, to put it mildly, immoral. If treatment is paid, it means that the greater the spread of the disease becomes, the greater the health system's revenues will be."