“Hayots Ashkhar” claims that the existence of the Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission (TARC) could provide a strong rationale for the European Parliament to exclude the recognition of the Armenian genocide from the list of its conditions for Turkey’s accession to the European Union. The paper says a draft report submitted to a key committee of the parliament earlier this month makes no mention of the genocide issue because the TARC’s activities. If the report is endorsed by the EU legislature the campaign for international recognition of the genocide “will be pushed back by at least 20 years.” The Armenian members of the commission have become “tools in the hands of Turkish diplomacy,” the paper concludes.
Another major daily, “Yerkir,” attacks the Armenian Assembly of American for its active support of the reconciliation commission. The Dashnak paper says the Assembly has refused to sign a joint appeal to President George Bush by Armenian-American organizations opposed to the possible repeal of US sanctions against Azerbaijan. They believe that the move would send a wrong message to Azerbaijan by rendering Baku even more reluctant to make major concessions on Nagorno-Karabakh.
“Aravot” reports that Robert Kocharian’s stern rebuke on Wednesday to the Armenian opposition for its failure to “rally around” the authorities -- as is the case, according to the president, elsewhere in the world lately -- was angrily rebutted by one of his arch-enemies later in the day. Former national security minister David Shahnazarian told the paper: “It is time for Kocharian to grasp the simple truth that both the people and the opposition cannot rally around a president who is not only illegitimate but also criminal.”
“Aravot,” for its part, dismisses renewed criticism of former prime minister Aram Sarkisian voiced by Kocharian on Wednesday during a trip to the northern Shirak province. Sarkisian, it says, was criticized for failing for improve the economic situation during his six months in office. But Kocharian has been in power for three and a half years and is track record is not any better, according to the paper.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says the government will be forced to cut spending by as much as one quarter next year because international lending agencies are no longer willing to finance the lion’s share of its budget deficit. Such a drastic cut in budget expenditures could heighten social tensions in the country. The paper claims that the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund may soften their line in case of a change of the government and “some corrections” in Armenian-Russian relations.
No ruling party has done for Armenia as much as Andranik Markarian’s Republican Party (HHK) has, one of its leading members tells “Zhamanak.” Galust Sahakian who heads the HHK faction in the parliament says Markarian’s imminent replacement is “theoretically” possible but “not natural.” “The change of prime minister would be extremely unexpected for the Republicans because we have fairly serious working agreements with the president of the republic and serious objectives which we must achieve jointly,” he says.