According to Aharon Atibekian the Director of Socio-meter, a public opinion poll organization, President Robert Kocharian’s popularity rating is at least %30 at the present. In an interview with “Zhamanak” he says that behind Kocharian are Prime Minister Andranik Margarian and Defense Minister Serge Sargsian. Political parties however, face a tough situation in the next parliamentary elections, as none of them really enjoys a high popularity rating. Dashnaktsutyun, the Republican Party and the People’s Party all have an approximately %10 rating.
“Haykakan Zahamanak” comments that Dashnaktsutyun dominates the government, except the power ministries. In this sense, the party’s potential rival is Serge Sargsian and this is why Dashnatsutyun members in the parliament raise issues that deal with problems in the army. The paper concludes that this is a prelude to the main battle that lies ahead. Moreover, the extent of Dashnaktsutyun’s success in the next parliamentary elections will determine whether that party has a claim on power ministries, but meanwhile it has to strengthen its hold over other executive organs of the government.
“Yerkir” daily writes that government structures and power ministries have never been as coordinated as they are today. The president has succeeded in inter-connecting government agencies and there are no serious contradictions among various organs to undermine the president’s position. At the same time, the commentator insists that no one can defend and justify existing corruption and cronyism, but there is the right time to change the government. An attempt now to change [the president] will create a more serious problem for the country than all the other problems currently facing the nation. Therefore, everyone should wait for 2003, when scheduled elections will take place.
“Iravunk” also writes that the early presidential campaign already under way leaves its negative mark on constitutional changes. Regardless of rational debate, sides try to maneuver to gain an advantage, sometimes resulting in suggesting ridiculous changes. The same can be said about reform of the electoral law.
The head of the military prosecutor’s investigative office, Artak Harutunian admits in “Hayots Ashkharh” that until recently they were not aware of certain information in the possession of the military police that could help the investigation of the October 27, 1999 terrorist attack on the Armenian parliament. An official of the military police recently disclosed in the press that they had their own video footage of the actual attack. Mr. Harutunian also says that the investigation to uncover the organizers of the attack still is in progress and certain new information has been uncovered, which cannot be disclosed at this time not to jeopardize the investigation. However, so far no possible scenario has been ruled out.
The Deputy Speaker of the Armenian parliament, Tigran Torosian who has returned from a trip to London tells “Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” that many Diaspora Armenians wish to return to Armenia, but are apprehensive of certain unpleasant things that have happened in the past. He says that all subjective impediments should be removed to open the way for the return of Diaspora Armenians.
Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade, Ara Petrossian assures the public in “Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” that the large number of foreign visitors to Armenia this year will be the best advertisement for Armenia because they left the country with the best of impressions. Mr. Petrossian believes that if traditional tourist destinations have become risky in the current world situation, potential tourists will look around for alternatives. “We should take advantage of this” and try to attract a larger number of foreign visitors, he says.
“Zhamanak” believes that the joint statement of the OSCE Minsk Group chairmen who just ended their visit to the region shows that war rhetoric coming from Azerbaijan is not an empty threat. Moreover, if Azerbaijan threatens war it means Baku has the explicit support of Turkey and if Turkey is ready to play with fire, this means that Ankara is playing its role in a larger picture. Maybe western countries have concluded that diplomacy cannot solve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and perhaps a “blitz” war can impose a pre-ordained map of the region on both sides.
By Vache Sarkissian