Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian’s statement that the most recent visit to the region by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs produced no results and that Heydar Aliev and Robert Kocharian are unlikely to achieve a breakthrough at their upcoming meeting in Moscow leads “Aravot” to repeat its view that both presidents are interested in keeping the peace process deadlocked. The paper points to a recent article in the Russian daily “Nezavisimaya Gazeta” written by Vladimir Kazimirov, Russia’s former Karabakh negotiator. According to Kazimirov, the latest round of shuttle diplomacy demonstrated that the conflict can not be solved by a “package” agreement. Only a phased solution is realistic, Kazimirov concluded. So, the paper comments, Kocharian deliberately sticks to a “doomed option.” “Indeed, this is a fertile ground for demagogues and adventurers.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” looks at the political transformation of one of Kocharian’s former advisers, Democratic Party leader Aram Sarkisian. Back in 1997, Sarkisian was among those “patriotic” figures who were unmasking Levon Ter-Petrossian’s “defeatist policy” on Karabakh. He later joined Kocharian’s administration only to become disillusioned with the new president. Sarkisian now wants fresh presidential elections. He warns that not only does Kocharian risk losing power but could also be prosecuted by Armenia’s “next authorities.”
The three opposition parties that were as recently as last month forcefully campaigning for Kocharian’s impeachment “seem to have gone underground” after their October 26 rally, writes “Haykakan Zhamanak.” Judging from the lack of attention to their activities from the pro-government media, the troika is no longer perceived to be dangerous by the regime. But one of its leaders, Albert Bazeyan, remains hopeful. He argues that since the authorities are playing “dangerous games” on the domestic and foreign fronts “the political situation may change at any moment.” In that case, the opposition will be able to collect enough signatures to impeach Kocharian. “So we will always keep the issue on the agenda,” Bazeyan says. The paper, however, is unimpressed by these assurances, saying that the opposition only counts on mass defections of defections of pro-Kocharian deputies.
“Hayots Ashkhar” rejects the argument that higher salaries in the civil service would significantly reduce corruption in Armenia. Most bureaucrats are not poor at all, the paper says. “In reality, they get more than doctors, teachers and scientists do. And there is no country in the civilized world where bureaucrats are paid so much for such a bad work and are allowed to take bribes and steal.”
“Yerkir” says the government overestimated Armenia’s attractiveness to foreigners. It is evident that the number of tourists who have visited Armenia this year is not anywhere near the predicted 150,000. For one thing, the celebrations of 1700 years of Christianity in Armenia do not seem to have aroused their interest. Those celebrations, according to the paper, were not well prepared and proceeded “rather haphazardly.”