Armenian Press Review (April 22-28)



By Vestnik Kavkaza

The Armenian press is actively discussing the future prospects of the political life of the country, the possible opening of borders with neighboring Turkey, as well as the quality of work of the Control Chamber of the Armenian Republic and the National Statistical Service. The press also paid attention to the fate of the Vorotan cascade hydroelectric power plant and funds being spent by Armenian ministers on trips abroad.

'Frozen' for the period until April 24, the internal political life in Armenia is starting to reawake. At the same time, old intrigues, which had been buried for a long time, will be 'afloat' once again - the newspaper Irates de facto writes.

"Since there is not a soul in the opposition camp, no political processes, everything has moved to the camp of authorities. People in the ruling Republican Party of Armenia are beginning to understand each other poorly. A new wave of discontent was raised, but the 'rebels' are silent. But they just need a reason for them to express their opinion and remind about it in 'the right place'," the newspaper notes.

The main 'target' of the Republicans who have moved to the 'internal opposition' is the socio-economic situation in the country and the mismanagement being carried out in the current circumstances. According to their observations, now the economic situation is worse than in the recent period of the global crisis. Those who 'complain' in the Republican Party are assured that the leadership of the country is aware of everything, and in the near future changes are possible not only in terms of policy, but also in human resource constraints, Irates de facto notes.

The Armenian-Turkish border may be opened in the next two years, 168 Zham writes. "Armenia, as a full member of the Eurasian Economic Union, may hinder Turkey from joining the structure. If desired, Yerevan can obstruct Turkey, but I do not think it will happen," the Russian expert Stanislav Tarasov told the newspaper 168 Zham, referring to Turkey's interests in the EAEU and the possible prospects of cooperation of the country with this structure.

"The specifics of the relationships of Turkey with each member state of the EAEU will be taken into account. In my opinion, in the next one and a half to a maximum of two years, Armenian-Turkish relations will be normalized and the opening of borders between Turkey and Armenia will take place... Ankara will not be able to counteract the ever-increasing pressure, and therefore try to find common ground with the Armenian side," Tarasov said. According to him, we are not talking about the local Armenian-Turkish border, but the EAEU–Turkish border, and the Russian Federation is interested in normalization of relations between a member of the Eurasian Economic Union – Armenia – and its neighbor.

 

 

The newspaper Zhoghovurd learned that the Armenian parliament has begun discussing the annual report of the Control Chamber of the Armenian Republic for 2014. "It should be noted immediately that this new report, unlike the previous one, is a 'toothless' and vague document. The report, unlike previous years, provided very little information, to which no assessment was made. This year's report, compared to the previous one, is much more modest in volume," the publication reports."For example, the annual report for 2013 consisted of 61 pages, and for 2014 of 35. Thus, it is obvious that the Control Chamber now, even just for appearance, does not dare to touch the part of the expenditure budget. In short, the Control Chamber of Armenia has decided to avoid various unpleasant situations and did not write any figures, because as noted, still, all of it is being used against them and their pro-government friends, which can lead to undesirable consequences in the intergovernmental 'disassembly'," the newspaper writes.The newspaper Haykakan Zhamanak points out the socio-economic indicators published by the National Statistical Service, according to which the growth of economic activity, compared to the same period last year, amounted to 2.5%, in spite of which the volume of trade was reduced by 6.3%, electricity production was reduced by more than 12%, and exports from Armenia decreased by 23%."How is it happening, that people do less shopping, consume less power, the economy exports less, and in these circumstances Armenia recorded an increase in economic activity?" the newspaper asks.Haykakan Zhamanak also writes: "The deal on the sale of the Vorotan Cascade hydropower plant (HPP) to the American company "Contour Global" cannot be completed. Yesterday the Government of Armenia once again changed the contract of the purchase and sale of the cascade. The agreement was signed more than a year ago, in January 2014. According to the agreement, the US company has to pay 250 million dollars. This is the first time an Armenian energy facility is not being sold to a Russian company. Apparently, for this reason, the transaction is constantly being delayed ... It is noteworthy that the 250 million dollars proposed for the cascade is the highest price offered for any government facility in the history of Armenia.""As for today, the opening is planned of the Arindzh Mall, which is owned by the former leader of the Prosperous Armenia party Gagik Tsarukyan, near the town of Abovyan. Salesmen from the Razdan market, who were dissatisfied with the rental costs of pavilions set by the owner,and  a deputy from the ruling Republican Party of Armenia, Ashot Aghababyan, should work here," the newspaper Zhamanak writes."Tsarukyan promised them that in his complex, traders will be able to not pay the rent for the pavilions for 3-4 years. However, yesterday we learned that the contract with those who agreed to move to work in the Arindzh Mall is set only for 1 year. "This means that we will be paying next year already," one of the traders told our correspondent," Zhamanak notes.

The newspaper Zhoghovurd learned that the Armenian parliament has begun discussing the annual report of the Control Chamber of the Armenian Republic for 2014. "It should be noted immediately that this new report, unlike the previous one, is a 'toothless' and vague document. The report, unlike previous years, provided very little information, to which no assessment was made. This year's report, compared to the previous one, is much more modest in volume," the publication reports.

"For example, the annual report for 2013 consisted of 61 pages, and for 2014 of 35. Thus, it is obvious that the Control Chamber now, even just for appearance, does not dare to touch the part of the expenditure budget. In short, the Control Chamber of Armenia has decided to avoid various unpleasant situations and did not write any figures, because as noted, still, all of it is being used against them and their pro-government friends, which can lead to undesirable consequences in the intergovernmental 'disassembly'," the newspaper writes.

The newspaper Haykakan Zhamanak points out the socio-economic indicators published by the National Statistical Service, according to which the growth of economic activity, compared to the same period last year, amounted to 2.5%, in spite of which the volume of trade was reduced by 6.3%, electricity production was reduced by more than 12%, and exports from Armenia decreased by 23%.

"How is it happening, that people do less shopping, consume less power, the economy exports less, and in these circumstances Armenia recorded an increase in economic activity?" the newspaper asks.

Haykakan Zhamanak also writes: "The deal on the sale of the Vorotan Cascade hydropower plant (HPP) to the American company "Contour Global" cannot be completed. Yesterday the Government of Armenia once again changed the contract of the purchase and sale of the cascade. The agreement was signed more than a year ago, in January 2014. According to the agreement, the US company has to pay 250 million dollars. This is the first time an Armenian energy facility is not being sold to a Russian company. Apparently, for this reason, the transaction is constantly being delayed ... It is noteworthy that the 250 million dollars proposed for the cascade is the highest price offered for any government facility in the history of Armenia."

"As for today, the opening is planned of the Arindzh Mall, which is owned by the former leader of the Prosperous Armenia party Gagik Tsarukyan, near the town of Abovyan. Salesmen from the Razdan market, who were dissatisfied with the rental costs of pavilions set by the owner,and  a deputy from the ruling Republican Party of Armenia, Ashot Aghababyan, should work here," the newspaper Zhamanak writes.

"Tsarukyan promised them that in his complex, traders will be able to not pay the rent for the pavilions for 3-4 years. However, yesterday we learned that the contract with those who agreed to move to work in the Arindzh Mall is set only for 1 year. "This means that we will be paying next year already," one of the traders told our correspondent," Zhamanak notes.

 

Deputy of the Republican parliamentary faction, the owner of the Razdan market, Ashot Aghababyan-Burnash said yesterday: "The Razdan Stadium has a sad fate, because since the opening of a new market in Abovyan, our income has declined by about 70%," noting that only this market can financially support the stadium, and protection was necessary for it not to be closed, so the prices have been lowered. "Of course, I was wrong, I prematurely raised the prices, but then I tried to correct my mistake," he said.

 

 

"It is said that the government of the Republic of Armenia has prepared a bill on the monopolization of imports of alcohol to the territory of Armenia at the highest level. One organization will deal with imports. Taking into account the operating manners in Armenia, it is easy to guess that the monopoly on the import of alcohol belongs to the same high government circles," 'Irates de facto' writes.

 

 

"The Ministry of Energy of Armenia is spending huge amounts of money on trips abroad. Air tickets for two trips in March alone, cost the state budget of Armenia 7 million drams, and this is because both times business class tickets were purchased for Minister Zakharyan," Chorrord Ishkhanutyun writes.

 

 

The first trip took place from February 28 to March 3: Zakarian and the head of external affairs of the ministry, Tigran Melkonyan, went to the Canadian city of Toronto. Moreover, they went on a "world tour" by the route Yerevan-Berlin-Frankfurt-Toronto and returned by the route Toronto-Frankfurt-Moscow-Yerevan. The business class tickets for Yervand Zakharyan cost 3 million 184 thousand drams, and an economy class ticket for his employee cost 992 thousand 978 drams.

 

 

The second trip took place to Beijing from March 21 to 26. Zakarian went along with his deputy Areg Galstyan and Tigran Melkonyan. Zakharian’s business class ticket Yerevan-Moscow-Beijing and Beijing-Moscow-Yerevan cost 1 million 936 thousand drams, and the rest of the staff tickets cost 437 thousand drams, meaning that every time the minister's travel cost 3-4 times more money.

 

 

"Of course, it is not only Yervand Zakharian who is traveling by business class, this weakness is inherent in all the ministers," the newspaper writes. "Perhaps it would be regarded as a normal thing if the country was not in a hard socio-economic situation, if the level of poverty was not more than 30%," the newspaper writes.

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