The Armenian foreign ministry has told “Haykakan Zhamanak” that it has received no statements from the European Union criticizing the local elections in Nagorno-Karabakh. But the paper insists that such a statement was made by the EU leadership in Brussels. It was uncharacteristically strongly-worded and pro-Azerbaijani, supporting Baku’s territorial integrity.
“Azg” pays attention to Yerevan’s problems with another European structure, the Council of Europe. The paper believes that contradictory statements on Karabakh made by the president of the Council’s Parliamentary Assembly, Lord Russell-Johnston, on a recent trip to Armenia and Azerbaijan are a diplomatic setback for Yerevan. Azerbaijan, capitalizing on Turkey’s lobbying efforts in Strasbourg, now wants to draw the Council of Europe into the Karabakh negotiating process. Russell-Johnston, while in Yerevan, signalled the organization’s readiness to become involved in the OSCE-sponsored peace talks. But both Russia and the United States, the main Karabakh mediators, are likely to object to the idea.
“Aravot” attacks the authorities for the arrest and prosecution of Soviet-era dissident Azat Arshakian on charges of illegal weapons possession. “The authorities mark ten years of our independence by arresting one of our independence fighters,” it says in an editorial. Had Arshakian joined the presidential bandwagon back in 1998 he would not have been made to endure the humiliation of being taken to court in handcuffs. The case against Arshakian is but an example of selective justice.
Not quite so, says “Hayots Ashkhar.” The paper says every citizen is equal before the law regardless of their merits and political background. Arshakian did not fall victim to a government “provocation” as his supporters say. The arms cache was found at a building belonging to the Independence Army organization of which he is a leader. That said, “Hayots Ashkhar” agrees with those who believe that the work of law-enforcement agencies must be “transparent.” “The public must be convinced that the reason for [their] punitive interference is some past wrongdoing and not current political ups and downs.”
“Yerkir” says the law-enforcement authorities have so far failed to mount an “effective campaign against the mafia.” And there is no indication that they intend to do that. “The executive’s anti-corruption program remains on paper and is incomplete, while the mafia takes another victim from us,” the paper concludes, referring to the murder of Gagik Poghosian, an aide to Prime Minister Andranik Markarian.
Stepan Demirchian, the leader of one of the three opposition parties campaigning for Robert Kocharian’s ouster, assures “Haykakan Zhamanak” that the Armenian president has not emerged stronger from last week’s visit to Armenia by his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. Demirchian argues that “public demand” for Kocharian’s resignation has not decreased as a result.
But according to “Hayots Ashkhar,” Putin’s visit has spread “panic” in the ranks of the radical opposition. They may now be furious but not dangerous for Kocharian.