“Zhamanak” sums up the mood of most pro-government newspapers in Armenia when it calls Russian President Vladimir Putin’s visit a success. A commentary in the paper is full of words like “a turning point” and “historic.” Agreements reached by Putin and Kocharian “shattered the hopes of the external and internal ill-wishers” of the current authorities in Yerevan, it concludes.
But as “Azg” points out, the most important of the planned Russian-Armenian agreements were not sealed by the two presidents. Their signing was postponed until later this year.
“Aravot” also stresses the ambiguity of the situation, saying: “Yes, Kocharian has boosted his standing with a part of the public which considers Russia to be our older brother. Yet Moscow stretches its hand to CIS presidents only if that stems from its interests.” Armenia is no exception. The Russians realize that Armenia’s greater economic dependence on the West will put its long-term presence in the country at risk. Hence, their desire to get a foothold on the Armenian economy.
According to Vagharshak Harutiunian, the former pro-Russian defense minister and a member of the opposition Hanrapetutyun party, Moscow is seeking safeguards against a pro-Western tilt in Armenian foreign policy. “Russia simply doesn’t trust the policy pursued by our country,” he tells “Aravot.” Not least because the Armenian government is engaged in a sale of “strategically important enterprises” to the West. Aram Sarkisian, a former prime minister and Hanrapetutyun leader, says Kocharian is getting more and more “pro-Russian” in order to cling to power. There has been a U-turn in Kocharian’s policy and he is now “totally Russian,” Sarkisian says.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says both Putin and Kocharian sought to draw political dividends from the Russian-Armenian summit. Kocharian used it show the Armenian opposition that it should not count on Russian support. For Putin, this was an opportunity to demonstrate his “strong positions” in Armenia to the West. “But in reality, the Russian president’s visit did not bring clarity on any issue.” There was, for instance, no word on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in a joint communiqué issued by the two leaders.
“Iravunk” speculates that, with Russia acting in a more assertive manner in its “near abroad” under Putin, the visit may have put an end to Armenia’s “complementary” foreign policy.
For the pro-Kocharian “Hayots Ashkhar” the most important thing is that the current authorities are perceived to be reliable partners by Moscow. This is bad news for the opposition which the paper says will seek to downplay the significance of Putin’s visit.