Armenian press review ( November 4-11)
Armenian mass media are focused on a report on Nagorno-Karabakh, which was approved by the PACE Committee, on the progress of the campaign of the constitutional amendments, and also the accident in the Tula region, resulting in Armenian citizens being killed and injured. The press is surprised by the external debt of the country growing ‘exponentially’, wondering whether the Armenian people have a ‘right to revolt’, and wondering how much more consumer prices will rise, although food is getting only cheaper worldwide.
The newspaper ‘Zhoghovurd’ refers to the subject of a report on Nagorno-Karabakh which was approved by the Political Commission of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). ‘Of course, it is obvious that this document cannot be decisive in resolving the Karabakh problem. However, the political assessment of what happened is not changing. And it is that Armenia has suffered a serious defeat in the arena of parliamentary diplomacy. Azerbaijan has succeeded in the international arena to create another document which contains the infamous formulation for Armenia, and Azerbaijan will be able to refer to this document later," the newspaper concludes.
The editor of the ‘Aravot’ newspaper writes: ‘Like any event, the anti-Armenian report of the PACE Committee has received critical evaluations in the political circles of Armenia. The opposition, in fact, argue that this is the end of the world and, of course, it is sufficient reason for a change of power, taking control of the country into their hands and saving the nation and, why not, the whole of humanity. The power of the state urges not to pay attention to all this nonsense, saying that a few corrupt MEPs have gathered and written a piece of paper which will have no legal force. However, if the PACE political commission is so unimportant, we should not spend the money of our modest budget and send our members to various European cities to participate in various activities," the author concludes.
The newspaper ‘Hraparak’ also refers to the subject of the report of the Committee of the PACE, "the Armenian delegation to the PACE failed to prevent the adoption of this report. In addition, the Azerbaijani delegation was able to introduce more strict formulations to the document. The report adopted by the Commission will be submitted for discussion by the PACE winter session which is scheduled for January, and then it will become clear whether the resolution will be adopted or not. By the way, in order to participate in this session, the head of the Armenian delegation to PACE Hermine Naghdalyan and a delegation member Armen Rustamyan will go to Paris. Meanwhile, the irony is that the heroes of this shameful situation, the members of the Armenian delegation to the PACE, filled the media with ridiculous justifications of their omission for two days, saying that even in case of adoption the report would not have political or legal implications," the newspaper writes.
Recalling that Russian President Vladimir Putin had a telephone conversation with the leaders of Turkey and Azerbaijan following the landslide victory of political forces in the parliamentary elections in their countries, the ‘Zhamanak’ newspaper writes: "Given the standoff with the West for Russia and Turkey, Azerbaijan is an important partner in the issue of retention of positions in the Middle East and the Caucasus and that Russia indeed needs deep relations with these countries, we can assume Erdogan and Ilham Aliyev, who have strengthened their political positions, will be able to talk more confidently with Putin, speaking from leading positions, more confidently, and it means that Baku may raise the price of its relations with Moscow, which is a serious challenge, first of all for Armenia," the ‘Zhamanak’ newspaper writes.
According to an accident in the Tula region, resulting in Armenian citizens being killed and injured, the newspaper ‘Zhoghovurd’ writes: "The bus that crashed was owned by the ‘King Deluxe’ company, which is owned by the the well-known businessman Arthur Harutyunyan, who is also a former candidate for the post of the Mayor of the city of Abovyan. Harutyunyan, who was expelled from the ruling Republican Party because of his political ambitions and who is known for a many-years feud with his godfather, the tycoon Gagik Tsarukyan, was able to take over a number of routes and to become one of the largest owners of buses in Armenia by intimidating people with the help of his godfather.
He has been engaged in the transportation of passengers on the Yerevan-Moscow route for five years, and perhaps few people would believe Harutyunyan's assurances that the possibility of a technical malfunction of the bus in the accident has been eliminated. And the problem here is not only and so much in itself, but in general, in the inspection system of the technical serviceability of vehicles," the paper concludes. After the accident near Tula with the Moscow-Yerevan bus the sphere of passenger bus transportation turned out to be in the center of attention of the Armenian community. As is well known, in recent years the interstate transportation of passengers by bus is in great demand, and the volume of air and road transport in Russia from Armenia by buses and airplanes are almost equal today, ‘Zhoghovurd’ writes. "According to unofficial estimates, we are talking about one million passengers. A Moscow bus ticket costs from 20 to 30 thousand drams. That is, the average of the total turnover of this market is about 25 billion drams or $50 million. And if the same passengers will use the services of airlines, in this case, the turnover will be at least $200 million. Turnover of such a size is being lost by the Russian airlines which carry out passenger transportation RA-RF by aircraft,’’ the author writes.
The editor of the ‘Aravot’ newspaper writes: "The response of the opposition political forces and their representatives to the bus accident, flying from Moscow to Yerevan, once again proves that Armenia should fully review the meaning of the word ‘policy.’ The response was something like this – nowadays buses do not get into accidents, and until the regime change, accidents will continue.’’ Our policies are contraindicated to such a simple human approach as grief, compassion and tact. If this is related to a disaster which claimed human lives, then certainly we can say anything about such a morally neutral issue as constitutional reform, " the author concludes.
The ‘Chorrord Ishkhanutyun’ newspaper writes that "an MP from the Republican Party of Armenia, Karine Poghosyan, expressed the view that it is impossible to be guided by the same Constitution for 20 years, because the world is moving forward. Ms. Poghosyan obviously confuses the Constitution with a dress, and according to this logic, of course, she is right. You cannot wear the same dress for 20 years. But ladies are often also unhappy when they have just one dress in their wardrobe. So Mrs. Poghosyan could also develop her idea and demand that Armenia have several constitutions for the autumn-winter, spring-summer, everyday, weekend, evening, and so on." The ‘Chorrord Ishkhanutyun’ newspaper writes: "The head of the parliamentary faction of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia, Vahram Baghdasaryan, said that the vast majority of people today are inclined to support decisions for the constitutional changes that are going to be in the referendum, and that he is convinced of this personally, talking to people at funerals and other occasions." In this regard, the publication says ironically: "Can you imagine such a picture? Let's say, in the cemetery the body of the deceased interred, and then one by one people approach Vahram Baghdasaryan, shake his hand, and he with a sorrowful voice says that is necessary to vote for the constitutional amendments. And then at the funeral the dignity not only of the deceased, but also of a new constitution are remembered. But in any case, Vahram Baghdasaryan has adopted the wrong tactics. Public opinion doesn't need to be probed at funerals and at weddings and engagements. As a rule, once served a kebab, from all tables people immediately start shouting: "Yes!" This proves that people will also say ‘yes’ to the constitutional amendments,’’ the author is ironic about the situation.
"That the Armenian authorities are making every effort to get employees of the state institutions to vote in their favor is a well-known fact. But do these efforts bring any result?’’ the newspaper ‘Zhoghovurd’ is wondering. The answer to this question can be found in the results of the presidential elections of 2013. It is no secret that the majority of employees of state institutions of ministries, educational institutions, government non-profit organizations, the police and others, whose total number is about 250 thousand people, live in large cities. However, in the presidential elections in 2013 the incumbent President Serzh Sargsyan was soundly defeated in almost all the major cities, including the regional centers. A similar pattern would not happen if the authorities could be able to impose their will on the employees of all state institutions. The fact that Sargsyan managed to hold on to power is due to knocking the desired outcome for the 500's rural polling stations. This circumstance should be taken into account by the opponents of the constitutional reforms," the ‘Zhoghovurd ‘ newspaper reports.
"The ambitions of the head the Union of Armenians of Russia, the wealthy Ara Abrahamyan, at one point were causing a storm in the political life of Armenia, but then everything went back to normal. But then processes behind the scenes followed," the newspaper ‘Irates de facto’ writes. "To our knowledge, these days through the efforts of the Chairman of the Democratic Party of Armenia (DPA), Aram Sargsian, people are being selected for the future team of Ara Abrahamian. That is, a list of individuals who should be in the new parliament. According to the same sources, it is noteworthy that in parallel another list is being compiled in one of the presidential administrations in Armenia. They say that its ‘content’ is very different," the paper concludes.
Alluding to the fact that at the time the current President Serzh Sargsyan once called his opponent, the leader of ‘National Unity’ Artashes Geghamyan, an ‘empty drum’, the newspaper ‘Chorrord Ishkhanutyun’ says ironically: "It turns out that the ‘National Unity’ party decided to join the campaign in the upcoming referendum on constitutional changes, and for this purpose will use the propaganda headquarters of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (RPA) in all the communities of Yerevan. In fact, so all staffs of the Republican Party in Yerevan will be provided with free music, of course, if the residents of the nearby houses will not complain about the too loud sound of drums. "
The newspaper ‘Hayots Ashkhar’ wrote "Those who are calling from December 1 to start mass actions of disobedience, used to continually repeat that the right to revolt is almost the duty of citizens and that supposedly it is enshrined in all the declarations and international law. That, at least, is an illiteracy, if not open forgery and provocation.’'
It is a well-known fact that during the nationwide elections in Armenia the main ‘tool’ of the authorities was the local authorities, which are mainly charged with the process of election fraud, the newspaper ‘Zhoghovurd’ reports.
According to the publication, in anticipation of the upcoming referendum on constitutional reforms on December 6th the territorially responsible government authorities began to ‘recruit’ local authorities. However, many of them, it seems, are in no hurry to take responsibility for the results of the elections. Many are trying to avoid participation in the process by different pretexts.
It turns out that they are not sure that they won’t be thrown away this time, as happened after the presidential elections in 2013. For many authorities, by declaring their ‘involvement’, are trying to get a clear promise that their ‘services’ must be rewarded, the publication writes.
The government of Armenia, according to the newspaper ‘Haykakan Zhamanak’, is discussing the new issue of Eurobonds in 2016, by which a new foreign debt of $500,700,000 will be attracted. "However, the final decision is still pending. It is noteworthy that this development is not provided for in the draft budget for the next year. That is, as expected, the government will act on the basis of the current situation, if the economic situation deteriorates further, then the new debt will be held. It will be the third issue of Eurobonds. As a result of the first two, Armenia has already raised issues of external debt of $1.2 billion. And it is quite expensive debt - 7% per annum.
Given the steady deterioration of the economic situation in Armenia, the interest rate is increasing. The preliminary calculations made by the Government showed that the external debt raised from the new issue will be at 8% or more per annum. However, the attraction of foreign debt by issuing Eurobonds is profitable for the government, with the view that their use is not accountable to any international financial institution, so they can spend money at their discretion," the newspaper notes.
‘’The consumer prices in Armenia rose by 4.4% in January-September this year compared to the same period last year. These figures have been published recently by the National Statistical Service of Armenia," the newspaper ‘Haykakan Zhamanak’ writes.
According to these data, in the first 10 months of the year, prices for the specified foodstuffs in Armenia grew by 4.3%. It is noteworthy that during this time, according to official data of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, food prices fell globally by 25-30%. According to the basic rules of the market economy, the cheaper goods should have penetrated to Armenia, where the prices should also become cheaper. But nothing like that has happened. And this is direct evidence that the basic rules of a market economy are not working in Armenia, there is no scope for imports of competing products," the newspaper reads.