“Yerkir” welcomes the results of Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze’s visit to Armenia. “All conditions are in place to increase the scale of Georgian-Armenian cooperation before Baku overcome’s its negative inertia and participates in pan-Caucasian economic developments.” The paper says the successful outcome of the talks confounded the predictions of the Armenian opposition. The authorities have succeeded in protecting Armenia’s interests by deepening ties with Georgia, rather than spoiling them.
“Haykakan Zhamanak,” however, draws a rather bleak picture of Armenian-Georgian relations, saying that Shevardnadze’s visit proceeded “under the shadow of coldness.” “The two countries have not reached agreement on a number of important issues.” Those include the problem of Javakhetia and regional cooperation, according to the paper.
Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian has already reacted to Azerbaijani President Heydar Aliev’s fresh threats to resume the war in Nagorno-Karabakh. Papers quote him as saying that the outbreak of another Armenian-Azerbaijani war “would mark the beginning of Azerbaijan’s last defeat.” “Aravot” says presidential spokesman Vahe Gabrielian agreed with Sarkisian’s statement.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says Friday’s demonstration in Yerevan will be crucial for the three opposition parties taking on Robert Kocharian. A low turnout would put them “in a difficult situation” and call into question the legitimacy of their impeachment drive. It is not clear what the troika will do if the rally draws a huge crowd to the streets of the capital. A spokesman for the Hanrapetutyun party, Suren Sureniants, says their goal at the moment is “to obtain a mandate of confidence from the public.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” makes downbeat forecasts about the main features of the next presidential and parliamentary elections due in 2003. It says the election campaign is bound to be “exceptionally tense, and extremely dirty.” The polls will see an “unprecedented interference from local governments.” Those political groups that wield government levers will certainly use them in the elections.
“Azg” is concerned about a new draft law on political parties currently debated in the parliament. Critics say it discriminates against small parties that fail to win any seats in the National Assembly under the system of proportional representation. The paper says several provisions of the bill contradict basic civil rights guaranteed by the Armenian constitution.