“Aravot” predicts that the Minsk Group negotiators will end the current trip to the region without any tangible results and will only declare that the Armenian side has adopted a more constructive stance than Azerbaijan has. The peace process will be postponed until next autumn. Armenia is perceived to be more cooperative at the moment because it is more willing to make major concessions. “Seeing that Nagorno-Karabakh is not a party [to the ongoing negotiations] and that Armenia’s position is more than vulnerable, Heydar Aliev is toughening his demands.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” appears to support claims that as much as $2.5 billion in hard currency has been siphoned off Armenia by corrupt government officials over the past ten years. The paper says this huge amount of money may have been generated by the widespread embezzlement of public funds, international loans and humanitarian aid; “plunder” of natural resources; privatization of state property; and “astronomical revenues from the shadow economy.” The allegedly stolen funds, or at least part of them, can still be returned to Armenia if the authorities take appropriate steps in the international arena. The paper finds this highly unlikely, saying that a group of high-ranking officials, including some unnamed ministers in the current government, are still engaged in “extremely lucrative and illegal business.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that a leading member of the Armenian Communist Party appears to have changed some of his fundamental political views after several trips to Strasbourg as a member of the Armenian delegation in the Council of Europe. “There is growing suspicion that [parliament deputy] Yuri Manukian gas begun to work for the world imperialism. He is now undergoing a major revision of his values.” Manukian says in particular that he is against Armenia joining the Russia-Belarus union because Yerevan is now more dependent on financial injections from the World Bank, IMF and the US government. “Modern-day Russia is unable to meet even the minimum demands of Armenia.”
But the lawmaker seems to contradict himself in an interview given to “Hayots Ashkhar.” The Communists, he says, will not form an alliance with the People’s and Hanrapetutyun parties because they are against joining the union.
Some papers report and comment on the sensational creation of a Turkish-Armenian “reconciliation commission.” The tone of the commentaries is suspicious and rather negative. “Azg” promises readers to find out “real aims” of the initiative.
In an editorial titled “Dangerous Adventure,” “Yerkir” says a Turkish-Armenian dialogue “must be based on a mutually accepted truth.” In this case the truth about the Armenian genocide of 1915 is a priori “ignored.” “The fact that the news about this commission, until now kept secret, is announced from Istanbul through the international media is suspicious and dangerous.” The paper is particularly unhappy with the involvement of former interior minister Aleksandr Arzumanian.