Aleksan Harutiunian, Robert Kocharian’s foreign policy aide, assures “Aravot” that the Karabakh peace process will not drag on for several more years. “I am sure that Robert Kocharian will resolve that problem. And I am sure that the solution we accept will be beneficial for Armenia,” Harutiunian says. He says a mutually acceptable settlement of the Karabakh conflict can only be based on the so-called “Paris principles” agreed by Kocharian and Azerbaijan’s Heydar Aliev. They envisage no swap of territories, according to the presidential adviser.
But “Zhamanak” is convinced that the 17 face-to-face meetings between the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents have yielded no results whatsoever and that the peace process remains deadlocked. In a commentary uncharacteristically critical of Kocharian, the newspaper of Prime Minister Markarian’s Republican Party claims that the Armenian leader is not interested in signing a peace deal before 2003 because it would lessen his chances of reelection in the next presidential election. A delay of a peace settlement may be good for Kocharian, but not for Armenia, the paper says, arguing that the Armenian economy still shows no signs of a major upswing.
“Hayots Ashkhar” says it has received a letter signed by over a hundred employees of the ministry for state revenues, who were angered by a recent interview given to the paper by their former boss, Gagik Poghosian. The paper says it will not publish the letter because “it is full of personal insults” against the former minister whom it describes as a “real professional” with clear ideas of how to bring the country out of crisis. The current minister, Andranik Manukian, is accused of being behind the letter.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” obviously deplores the decision by judge Samvel Uzunian to pardon six defendants in the ongoing parliament shootings trial. “Some political circles,” it says, view the unexpected decision as a “political act.” They believe that Hunanian is thus being told that the authorities will keep their promise and take care of him.
“Aravot” appears to share this view, saying that the authorities “will indirectly give additional hope and guarantees to Hunanian and other members of his group.” This paves the way for Hunanian’s amnesty or the softening of charges leveled against him, the paper claims. Vahan Shirkhanian, a former cabinet minister sacked by Kocharian, calls the move “yet another victory for the organizers of the October 27 coup.” It was made possible by the lack of unity among friends and supporters of Vazgen Sarkisian and Karen Demirchian. “Aravot” bluntly describes those political forces as “too stupid.”
“The decision to declare amnesty was taken by a National Assembly where the crime took place and whose members are considered to be its victims,” reminds “Azg.”