“Haykakan Zhamanak,” ending a series of reports on the 13th anniversary of the 1988 earthquake, says 2003 will go down in history as the year of Robert Kocharian’s reelection and the rebuilding of the disaster zone. The two events will not be a coincidence as the completion of the reconstruction process is intended to be “just an episode in Kocharian’s election campaign.” The “Haykakan Zhamanak” correspondent who toured the northern areas on Friday says that unlike Kocharian and other officials, people living there are not quite optimistic about their future.
But as “Zhamanak” reports, Prime Minister Andranik Markarian believes that the various governments in Yerevan have done “a huge amount of work” over the past thirteen years. Markarian said on Friday that the area’s social and housing problems will be solved “in one or two years time.” He said the government should now switch the focus of its efforts to the creation of new jobs.
“Hayots Ashkhar” says various governing factions, that have frequently quarrelled among themselves, are now closing the ranks to start preparations for the presidential elections of 2003. The opposition, for its part, is trying to “neutralize sources of government power.” Opposition leaders are now planning fund-raising trips abroad. The paper repeats, time and again, its claim that the opposition forces are manipulated and guided by the country’s former authorities keen to return to power. It says the central theme of their election campaign will be “defeatism [on Nagorno-Karabakh] hidden under the guise of pacifism.”
In an interview with “Aravot,” the widow of the late Karen Demirchian attacks pro-government media for accusing the Demirchian family of seeking to destabilize the situation in Armenia. Rimma Demirchian says that it is the authorities themselves that hold the key to political stability. “They are about to declare us enemies of the people,” she says. “My sons have gone to the United States at the invitation of the Armenian community there. Don’t they have such a right? And what is all the fuss about?” She says Stepan and Samvel Demirchian will try to raise funds for charitable work of their Karen Demirchian Foundation, not for the opposition People’s Party of Armenia (HZhK).