“Aravot” says 2002 is a pre-election year and will therefore see heightened political tensions. As if to substantiate this assertion the paper quotes Aram Sarkisian, the former prime minister and leader of the opposition Hanrapetutyun party, as saying that the ongoing trial of the parliament gunmen has brought clarity to the political situation in the country. “The authorities increasingly resemble those criminals,” Sarkisian says. He also says that Hanrapetutyun is “very likely” to contest the 2003 elections in an alliance with other opposition forces.
“Aravot” reports that Hanrapetutyun leaders on Wednesday held talks with the leadership of the newly formed Socialist Armenia bloc comprising the Communist Party and several small leftist groups. One of them, Albert Bazeyan, said Hanrapetutyun is ready to closely cooperate with Socialist Armenia. He even did not rule out the possibility of Hanrapetutyun joining the new bloc.
Meanwhile, according to “Hayots Ashkhar,” a pro-government group that split from the opposition People’s Party of Armenia (HZhK) last year is rumored to be considering joining forces with Prime Minister Andranik Markarian’s Republican Party (HHK). But a senior member of the splinter group called the People’s Democratic Party (ZhDK), Gagik Voskanian, denies that the ZhDK has offered the Republicans to form a new bloc. Voskanian at the same time concedes that his party regards the Republicans as allies.
Political scientist Suren Zolian discusses prospects for the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict in an interview with “Hayots Ashkhar.” Zolian believes that the new year will not see a breakthrough in the peace process because neither the Armenian nor the Azerbaijani leaders will be ready to make major concessions and thereby “jeopardize their political future” ahead of the 2003 elections. This is why, Zolian says, the conflict will remain “frozen.” He is also convinced that the war for Karabakh is unlikely to resume this year because the party which would try to change the status quo would suffer “huge losses” in the battlefield.
“Azg” comments that Azerbaijan’s insistence on the restoration of its territorial integrity seems to be becoming “less persuasive” in the eyes of the international community. The paper bases this conclusion on the results of recent years’ votes in the UN General Assembly on resolutions mentioning Karabakh as a part of Azerbaijan. The number of countries voting for the clause has been steadily declining since 1998.