In their coverage of Prime Minister Andranik Markarian’s visit to the southeastern Syunik province, Armenian papers emphasize his remarks that again ruled out the possibility of Yerevan handing over the Meghri district to Azerbaijan as part of a peace deal on Nagorno-Karabakh. “This is not an issue,” “Zhamanak” quotes Markarian as saying. He said those who exploit the matter want to draw “political dividends.”
Markarian also commented on a Karabakh peace settlement, according to “Hayastani Hanrapetutyun.” “There can not be even talk of giving away Karabakh,” Markarian said. “Such a solution would simply be a suicide.” His Karabakh counterpart, Anushavan Danielian, complained that despite being a “victim of Azerbaijani aggression” Karabakh is unable to receive international assistance and loans to rebuild its shattered economy.
“Iravunk” says that the signing a new Russian-Armenian agreement on economic cooperation will be the main result of President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Armenia next month. The agreement would place “a considerable part of Armenia’s energy and military-industrial sectors” under Russian control, the paper claims. Robert Kocharian is now inclined to back the Russian proposals for two principal considerations. First, he would be able to ward off further attacks from pro-Russian opposition groups. And second, Russian help would allow him to cement his positions with a view towards winning the 2003 presidential election.
The newspaper “Hayastani Komunist” reports that a leading member of the Armenian Communist Party (HKK), Yuri Manukian, was expelled from the party for maintaining close ties with “the current anti-popular authorities” and sabotaging Communist initiatives.
But according to “Iravunk,” the real reason for Manukian’s ouster is the unfolding leadership struggle in the HKK. Its elderly first secretary, Vladimir Darpinian, is expected to retire this fall, and Manukian was seen as one of his possible successors. The paper says bickering in the Communist leadership is part of the broader political “polarization” in Armenia which cuts across party lines. On one side of the deepening divide are those politicians who expect to reap material benefits from their loyalty to the authorities. On the other side are “revolutionary figures” who are not particularly clever and “reject everything.” The paper rejects both political currents, calling instead for the consolidation of “constructive opposition forces.” “The country is going through a crisis of the golden middle. If that crisis is not overcome, other crises will become perpetuated.”