Much of Tuesday's Armenian press commentary centers on the May 28
commemoration of the 83th anniversary of the "First Republic." Columnists use the occasion to reflect on the Armenian state's past and present.
The May 28 celebrations were "fairly lazy" this year, according to "Haykakan Zhamanak." Many Armenians still do not realize the historic significance of the event. The challenge for the country's present rulers is to ensure a "permanent regime of existence" for the third republic.
"Iravunk" believes that May 28 must be a "holy day" for every Armenia
because the first republic laid the foundations of modern-day Armenia. Its Dashnak leadership must be a role model for the country's present rulers. No foreign power, for instance, could force the government in Yerevan in 1918-1920 to sell the Yerevan brandy factory, something which the nationalist paper all but equates to high treason. It also writes: "A country can not be free and independent if a considerable part of its population is poor and unemployed, while a group of nouveaux riches is enjoying the best things in life day and night."
This is also the point made by a senior member of the Dashnaktsutyun party in an interview with "Hayots Ashkhar." "Independence has not become property of the people," says Gegham Manukian. He says over the last decade the body politic has seen that Armenian rulers are at least no better than foreign ones.
Meanwhile, "Haykakan Zhamanak" carries a statement by a group of
unidentified members of Dashnaktsutyun in Canada denouncing the nationalist party's worldwide Bureau for its strong support of the Armenian authorities. The statement refers to a recent Bureau directive, known as the "Circular No. 55," telling party members that that the interests of Dashnaktsutyun and President Robert Kocharian are identical at this juncture. A leading Dashnaktsutyun member, Armen Rustamian, dismisses the statement as "bogus" but stops short of denying the existence of the circular.
"Iravunk" is increasingly enthusiastic about the results and implications of last week's summit in Yerevan of the CIS defense grouping. It says historians will eventually view the summit as "the beginning of the end of the one-polar world order." Deepening military links with five other ex-Soviet republics will no doubt give Russia more levers to counter the spread of Western influence in the south Caucasus and other parts of the ex-USSR. Azerbaijan will, as a result, see its strategic importance decline in the international arena. Its territorial integrity will not be as important for the West as it is now.
This is the kind of attitude a former aide to Levon Ter-Petrossian deplores in an article for "Azg." Ktrich Sardarian says Moscow at last appears to be truly interested in peace and stability in the Caucasus. And yet "we are making up an awful lot of arguments to prevent that." "We must understand rather than love and then get disappointed with Russia," he says. Pro-Russian groups in Armenia are wrong to believe that they know Russia's interests in the region better than the Kremlin does. All of their efforts pursue a single goal: to preserve the status quo. This is not the way Armenians can successfully meet challenges facing them, Sardarian concludes.