"Hayots Ashkhar" writes that the Armenian opposition is now more "consolidated" than last autumn when it tried to bring about the resignation of president Robert Kocharian. Opposition parties have realized that they are no match to the presidential camp without acting as a united front. "During the political spring the opposition will try to exploit not only the socioeconomic difficulties and unsolved problems but also politically resonant issues such as the expected escalation in the Nagorno-Karabakh negotiating process, the politicization of constitutional reforms and especially the issue of the abolition of capital punishment by linking it with the October 27 case trial." But, the paper says, the political spring will not live up to the opposition's expectations because none of those issues preoccupies the population at the moment.
"Zhamanak" also accuses the opposition of playing up the country's pressing problems. It condemns the "hysteria over the [possible] resumption of the war" with Azerbaijan.
Hrant Markarian, a leader of the Dashnaktsutyun party, tells "Yerkir" that the authorities are not fully trusted by most Armenians who he says are particularly angry at widespread injustice and the absence of rule of law. Markarian also deplores mounting "intolerance" among the country's main political parties.
"Aravot" reports that a group of Armenians in Russia has formed a pro-Kocharian lobbying group that will campaign for the president's victory in next year's elections. "But why is Kocharian so indifferent to the opinion of domestic voters?" the paper asks. "Or he still believes that the president of Armenia is appointed from Moscow?"
"Haykakan Zhamanak" speculates that the IMF's reluctance to unblock delayed loans reflects the West's negative attitude towards the current Armenian leadership. So far the authorities have succeeded in keeping the West from "turning that attitude into concrete actions."
The latest developments surrounding US plans to send military experts to Georgia are construed by "Aravot" as a sign of the superpowers' "serious" interest towards the region. Some believe that the West is now pressing Armenia to speed up the resolution of the Karabakh conflict.
"Iravunk" also thinks that the presence of US troops in Georgia could mean heightened pressure on Kocharian and Heydar Aliev to hammer out a peace deal on Karabakh before the 2003 elections.
But as political scientist Igor Muradian claims in an interview with "Aravot," Western oil multinationals no longer view the Karabakh conflict as an impediment to the realization of their Caspian oil projects. Therefore the conflict's settlement has lost its urgency for the West and even for Russia and Iran. This, according to Muradian, gives the Armenians a "real opportunity to build a second Armenian state in Karabakh."