“Golos Armenii” has no big expectations from the latest visit to the region of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs. It says the visit can at best produce a tentative agreement on the next Kocharian-Aliev meeting.
Visits by the co-chairs are becoming “an integral part” of the political life in Armenia, writes “Hayots Ashkhar.” This one comes amid a “deepening polarization in the region.” The paper warns the West against demanding additional concessions from the Armenian side, arguing that that would force Yerevan to seek even closer ties with Russia and Iran. The co-chairs will no doubt do their best to “keep the process alive” but there is little they can do to narrow the differences between the parties.
“Yerkir” says Karabakh will be a major issue in the presidential and parliamentary elections of 2003. The Armenian authorities and political parties are already preparing for the polls “openly and seriously.” The paper is confident that the Karabakh conflict will not be resolved by that time. This fact will lessen chances of the Armenian opposition, stripping it of an opportunity to embarrass the authorities by exploiting the issue.
Papers continue to comment on the latest changes in the government of Andranik Markarian. The tone of the commentaries is overwhelmingly negative. “Iravunk,” “Hayots Ashkhar,” “Haykakan Zhamanak” and “Aravot” agree that the reshuffle will hardly reflect positively on the government’s performance.
The pro-government “Zhamanak,” however, defends the replacement of Minister for State Revenues Andranik Manukian, citing “serious shortcomings” in tax collection. Manukian’s allegedly heavy-handed approach is said to have damaged the business climate in Armenia. The purpose of his removal was to “make tax administration as flexible as possible.”
“Azg” reports that another acrimonious row is brewing in the Armenian Apostolic Church, with Archbishop Mesrop Mutafian of Istanbul increasingly at odds with the Catholicosate in Echmiadzin. The paper accuses the spiritual leader of the Armenian community in Turkey of engaging in “anti-canonical and non-traditional activities” aimed at undermining the authority of Catholicos Garegin II. It says Mutafian persistently refuses to attend sessions of the Supreme Spiritual Council and is said to support the defrocked former head of the Russia diocese of the Armenian Church, Archbishop Tiran Kyureghian.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says Kyureghian and his allies have asked the Lebanon-based Catholicos Aram I, the number two figure in the Armenian church hierarchy, to declare the Russia diocese under his jurisdiction. But the paper doubts that Aram will do so.