“Azg” writes that the Armenian parliament will make a crucial decision on which proposed versions of constitutional reform should be put to a referendum at its spring session which opened on Monday. The issue will draw a new division line between the main parliamentary forces.
“Iravunk” editorializes that the change of leadership in Armenia exactly four years has not lived up to popular expectations. “The clan system has remained in place with only slight changes in the make-up of the oligarchs.” Also, there have been few changes on the economic and legal fronts. The paper, which had welcomed Robert Kocharian’s rise to the presidency, adds: “The law has not become a safeguard for the rights of ordinary citizens, remaining just a tool in the hands of their rulers. The tradition of political killings has not been done away with. Furthermore, even now there are no guarantees that the authorities will not sign variants of a Karabakh settlement that are unacceptable in terms of our national and state interests.” The regime has chosen to instigate devastating rifts inside leading opposition parties, instead of banning them. Similarly, the authorities seek to rein in independent media through economic rather than administrative measures.
The main lesson, according to “Iravunk,” to be drawn from the events of the past four years is this: “Nothing will change with a mere change of individuals. What is needed is systemic changes, even if they are slow.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” writes that the ratification of the European Charter of Human Rights (one of Armenia’s key Council of Europe obligations) promises to become a key political issue. Parliament deputies are divided over abolition of the death penalty. Many deputies are against the measure because they want the five parliament gunmen that are currently facing trial to be sentenced to death. The paper shrugs off their main argument that Nairi Hunanian and his henchmen will tell the court who had masterminded the 1999 parliament massacre once they feel that their life is at risk. It says the decision on whether or not to abolish capital punishment must not be motivated by one’s attitudes to particular individuals, no matter who they are.
“Aravot” blasts Dashnaktsutyun leader Vahan Hovannisian for a reported remark that “Armenia has a common border with only one country, what we have with the [three] other countries is a frontline.” The paper says that in civilized countries such “cave thoughts” can hardly be expressed by a politician representing a mainstream political group. But Armenia is a different case. Hovannisian is not just a leader of a major pro-government party. He, after all, is the chairman of the Armenian parliament’s committee on defense and security.