“Azg” carries an extensive New Year message of Karabakh Defense Minister Seyran Ohanian addressed to the personnel of the Karabakh Defense Army. Ohanian thanks his servicemen for boosting their combat readiness in 2001 but tells them to be prepared for an offensive war against Azerbaijan. “The key to our success is not only defense but also the ability to attack,” reads the message. “In order to crush the enemy we need to dictate our will. We must be able to launch a powerful counteroffensive along with being able to defend ourselves.”
“Aravot” is more preoccupied with domestic Armenian politics. The paper reports that an activist of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) who voiced serious corruption allegations against close associates of former president Levon Ter-Petrossian in 1998 himself appears to have become a wealthy person. Ashot Papazian, better known to Armenian journalists with an unpalatable nickname, has paid more than $500,000 to get control of one of Yerevan’s largest retail markets. A company owned by him has signed a 15-year lease agreement with the government. Papazian, who accused representatives of the Ter-Petrossian administration of building huge personal fortunes at a Dashnaktsutyun rally in 1998, denies that the lucrative business will be unofficially controlled by his party.
“Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” reports that leaders of Dashnaktsutyun and another traditional Armenian party, Ramkavar Azatakan, met on Friday less than a month after exchanging bitter verbal attacks through their newspapers. Ramkavar leader Ruben Mirzakhanian tells the paper that the two parties, which have structures in and are mainly funded by the Diaspora, have another common feature: the pursuit of Hay Dat (Armenian Cause). But he says they are not close enough to form an electoral alliance.
Dashnaktsutyun’s Armen Rustamian makes a similar point in an interview with “Hayots Ashkhar.” He says the Dashnaks will not team up with any political party in the foreseeable future. Rustamian also believes that 2002 will be a “decisive year” for Armenia. He attaches particular importance to the completion of constitutional reform, saying that the nationalist party supports Robert Kocharian’s constitutional amendments.
“Aravot” reports that Sebouh Tashjian, a US citizen and a key Armenian minister in the 1990s, has agreed to return to Armenia and answer questions of prosecutors investigating alleged abuses in the energy sector. The paper confirms an earlier RFE/RL report that the prosecutors have abandoned plans to bring criminal accusations against Tashjian. It says the former official is regarded as just a witness in the case for the time being.