Armenian papers carry Robert Kocharian’s and Andranik Markarian’s official congratulations to the Karabakh leadership on the tenth anniversary of the unrecognized republic’s independence. The speaker of the Karabakh parliament, Oleg Yesayan, tells “Golos Armenii” that the main challenge facing Karabakh and Armenia at present is an economic one. He says a strong economy is the best safeguard against a possible Azerbaijani “aggression.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak,” meanwhile, focuses on the political situation in Stepanakert, saying that relations between NKR President Arkady Ghukasian and Prime Minister Anushavan Danielian continue to deteriorate. Karabakh state television has not shown Danielian in its reports since mid-July, a bad omen for the latter. According to rumors circulating in Stepanakert, Ghukasian is intent on sacking the premier but can not yet do that because of a strong opposition from the authorities in Yerevan.
But as a “Yerkir” correspondent who was in Karabakh recently reports, people there are optimistic about their future despite the hardships they suffer.
Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian believes that the NKR is far more democratic than Azerbaijan, “Azg” reports. Oskanian also thinks that the Council of Europe’s condemnation of the upcoming Karabakh elections was “not an unprecedented development.” Karabakh elections held in 1996 and 1997 were criticized even more harshly by international organizations and foreign states. Oskanian further makes the point that a settlement of the Karabakh conflict need not necessarily be perceived to be fair by all conflicting parties. International mediators, he says, should take a closer look at “historical and legal aspects” of the problem and explain them to the Azerbaijani people. It will then be easier for the Azerbaijanis to come to terms with the loss of Karabakh. The minister argues that the disputed enclave broke away from Azerbaijan in compliance with a Soviet law which was still in force in September 1991.
“Azg” reports that the Armenian government may take ArmenTel to court for its unilateral introduction of the per-minute system of telephone charges. The case could be taken up by the International Court of Arbitration in London. An angry statement by the minister of transport and telecommunications, Andranik Manukian, marked on Friday the start of an “open confrontation” between the government and ArmenTel.
But as “Aravot” emphasizes, Manukian and other government officials must have known that ArmenTel was serious about the introduction of the payment scheme. The Greek company OTE is allowed to raise the charges under the terms of its 1998 takeover of ArmenTel. This leads the paper to make the following conclusion: “The ‘fury’ expressed by the authorities is just a populist bluff.”