“Yerkir” expects that the elimination of the “Afghan source of terrorism” will have far-reaching positive implications for the resolution of the conflicts in the Caucasus. It will facilitate, in particular, the search for peace in Nagorno-Karabakh. One of the factors giving the paper reason for optimism is Osama bin Laden’s alleged “Azerbaijani links,” of which the West and Russia are well aware. Their future efforts to bring Baku to account will help push the Karabakh peace process forward.
In an interview with “Golos Armenii” Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian says Armenia lacks proper “analytical structures” to gauge the ramifications of the US-led anti-terrorist campaign for the entire Eurasian continent. “But I agree that the world has changed since September 11, and that a rethinking of the standards that guided the world before the American tragedy is possible,” Sarkisian says. “We must be extremely vigilant in this situation.” Sarkisian is also upbeat about Armenia’s economic prospects, saying that “life will get better over time.” And he sees no threat to the current authorities emanating from the consolidating opposition. “They lack political experience and that is why decided to launch a pre-election campaign one and a half years before the elections,” he says.
Meanwhile, President Kocharian’s remarks made to reporters during his visit to the Kotayk province late last week are derided by “Aravot.” The paper described them as "a provincial’s attempt to reassert himself in an alien milieu," alluding to Kocharian’s “rural” Karabakh origin -- a traditional line of attack by his opponents. It resents Kocharian’s attempts to justify the behavior of his bodyguards who reportedly killed a man in a Yerevan café on September 26. It says Kocharian has behaved unethically by failing to offer his condolences to the victim’s family and publicly pledging to bring the murderers to justice. What Kocharian has done instead is to tell Armenians that “if the president goes somewhere one or two persons may well get killed.”
The pro-presidential “Hayots Ashkhar” reports that prosecutors investigating the deadly incident now think that it was a “premeditated murder.” However, they have not arrested and charged anybody yet.
“Iravunk” reports on “another citizen subjected to violence” during Kocharian’s visit to Kotayk. The paper says a resident of the town of Nor Hajn was assaulted by security officers and spent three hours in police custody after trying to approach Kocharian. The woman, who says she was unfairly laid off by a local diamond-cutting factory two months ago, wanted to present her case to the head of state. Police say she will face administrative punishment for “petty hooliganism.”