“Azg” has little expectations from this week’s meeting in Moscow between the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents. It says further direct talks between Robert Kocharian and Heydar Aliev will be “fruitless” because of Azerbaijan’s consistent rejection of international peace proposals.
“Aravot” is surprised that some representatives of the former authorities are beginning to approve Kocharian’s foreign policy. One of them, Stepan Grigorian, says this is so because some steps taken by the current authorities in the international arena recently represent a shift from the policy they have pursued for the past three years. Grigorian points to Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian’s speech at the UN General Assembly in which asserted the Karabakh Armenians’ right to self-determination. Grigorian also welcomes what he sees as a softer line on Turkey voiced by Oskanian at the UN. But he cautions that most of Kocharian’s political allies in Armenia, notably the Dashnaktsutyun party, remain staunchly anti-Turkish.
Republican Party (HHK) leader Tigran Torosian makes a case for preserving Armenia’s existing “semi-presidential” system of government in an interview with “Zhamanak.” Torosian says he and the governing party as a whole are opposed to the introduction of a parliamentary system because they believe it would mean a “dispersion of responsibility” in the country’s leadership.
“Yerkir” reports that the recently created People’s Democratic Party (ZhDK), the former pro-government wing of the opposition HZhK, has openly sided with the current government and is ready to share responsibility for its activities. The paper says the ZhDK apparently has been promised senior government posts.
“Hayots Ashkhar” says the authorities refuse to publicize the names of those senior officials who, according to Kocharian, do not pay their electricity bills and must therefore face punishment. Still, the paper has learned that the energy ministry has drawn up a “black list” of deputy ministers, provincial governors, police chiefs and senior bureaucrats that will be dealt with severely.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that the parliament committee on defense and security, headed by Dashnaktsutyun leader Vahan Hovannisian, has drafted what it views as a draconian bill that would impose heavy fines on those Armenian citizens who, for whatever reason, have not served in the armed forces since 1991. The paper is strongly opposed to the bill, calling it “a new method of extorting money” from Armenians. The government and even Chief Military Prosecutor Gagik Jahangirian also find the legislation “unacceptable.” They say that it is unconstitutional.