The rift in the People’s Party of Armenia (HZhK) continues to dominate Armenian press commentary. Forecasts about the future of the country’s largest and most popular parties are gloomy.
“Hayots Ashkhar” says HZhK leader Stepan Demirchian no longer enjoys the support of the HZhK’s parliament faction. Only its “aggressive minority” stands by him. Demirchian is now faced with the following dilemma: to opt for a moderate line, which would preclude any alliances with radical opposition forces, or to carry on with his current policy. In case of the latter, he would be left with only five deputies in the National Assembly.
Those who consider quitting the HZhK are “pragmatics,” writes “Golos Armenii.” Not just because being in opposition holds little promise for them. They believe that even if an opposition alliance wins the next elections their party will in no way benefit from that. The party is now in a situation where it is unable to “play its own game in the political arena.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says Gagik Aslanian and his allies may well succeed in “staging a coup inside the HZhK” and stripping Demirchian of all leadership levers.
For “Yerkir” whatever happens in the HZhK can not be considered “self-cleansing.” “It is rather self-destruction because that party lacks the most important thing: the consolidation of people around an idea.”
“Zhamanak” thinks the timing of the squabbles in the HZhK and the Communist Party is not accidental. Hardline elements in both parties think that the government’s positions are weakening and want to seize on the opportunity to launch a “decisive attack.” They don’t want to wait until the 2003 elections.
Bringing about fresh presidential elections is the principal goal of the would-be opposition alliance, according to “Hayots Ashkhar.” The opposition realizes that the case of the parliament shootings and allegations of an imminent sellout on Karabakh are becoming less and less topical for ordinary Armenians. Hence, its desire to rush into offensive. Any dissenters are getting purged in the process. The country is thus heading for an “extremely fierce and tense political struggle,” the paper concludes.
“Zhamanak” takes the view that the best way for the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders to prepare their publics for compromise is to actually sign a peace deal on Karabakh and make clear that it will benefit both peoples. The paper says a peace settlement would be “the best condition” for Aliev’s and Kocharian’s reelection. This is the strongest incentive for them to continue the peace process.
Papers carry Wednesday’s statement by Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian blaming Azerbaijan for the impasse in the peace talks. Yerevan is undaunted by Baku’s threats to resume hostilities in Karabakh, Oskanian said. “Any military onslaught will get an adequate response,” he said.