“The majority of opposition forces is increasingly leaning towards an anti-presidential stance, while the governing coalition is increasingly attached to Robert Kocharian,” writes “Iravunk” in an analysis of the political situation in Armenia. The Hanrapetutyun part is already advocating the authorities’ resignation. Its most likely ally, the People’s Party (HZhK), looks set to toughen its anti-government rhetoric after the upcoming parliament debates on a bill on civil service. The HZhK is strongly opposed to the draft legislation. Kocharian “promptly” called the emergency session to push through a package of initiatives “reinforcing his own administrative levers.”
Also on the parliament agenda is a controversial draft law on demonstrations and other public gatherings voted down by the National Assembly earlier this year, “Aravot” reports. The bill has since undergone only cosmetic changes and, according to the paper, retains its “anti-popular nature.” It still allows the authorities to restrict citizens’ constitutionally guaranteed freedom of assembly.
“Aravot” and “Haykakan Zhamanak” take the view that Kocharian is creating a semblance of constitutional reform and will not give up any of his sweeping powers. That is why a package of draft constitutional amendments drawn up by a presidential commission is kept secret. “Haykakan Zhamanak” notes that the present constitution was written by a multi-partisan commission and was enacted in 1995 after a long public debate. By contrast, Kocharian’s commission is made up of “palace scholars and bureaucrats” who meet only behind the closed doors. The paper doubts that the commission has decided anything at all.
For “Zhamanak” reform of the state bureaucracy is of highest priority. The paper hopes that the bill on civil service will be at last passed by the parliament next week. It cites Kocharian’s claim that certain corrupt governing circles resist its passage.
“Nairi Hunanian was not recruited as an agent by national security bodies,” National Security Minister Karlos Petrosian tells “Hayots Ashkhar.” Petrosian also rules out the possibility of any “extra-legal assistance” given to the ringleader in his ministry’s prison. He says those who make such allegations are intent on stoking political tensions in the country. Petrosian also dismisses as “absurd” his Azerbaijani counterpart Namik Abbasov’s threat to launch an “anti-terrorist operation” in Azerbaijani territories controlled by Armenian forces. “I regret that that person can’t tell a national-liberation struggle from terrorism,” he says.
“Yerkir” urges Armenians to stay prepared for another war and not embrace “pacifism.” Armenia must be vigilant against grave security threats because, the paper says, its “neighbors equip their armies day and night.”