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Press Review


"Aravot" says that unlike the Armenian opposition, independent media will not use the silencing of the A1+ television to demand Robert Kocharian's resignation. Their task is to "confront the president when he takes anti-democratic steps." "In that sense, the majority of journalists are neither pro-government nor pro-opposition. They are just doing their job. But one must fight for their right to disseminate and receive truthful, impartial and objective information." The paper believes that Kocharian is scoring a "temporary victory" on the information front, having managed to ward off stiff public resistance and split the media. With the statement issued by 17 pro-presidential media outlets, Kocharian "drew a demarcation line" between those who, in his eyes, are with or against him.

"Haykakan Zhamanak" agrees that the statement split the Armenian media. "This statement was largely designed for the outside world. They want to show international organizations and diplomatic missions that they, journalists, believe that the closure of A1+ is not an extraordinary phenomenon for Armenia," the paper writes.

"Haykakan Zhamanak" also takes issue with Kocharian's claims that no media outlet has faced any government pressure or intimidation under his rule. The paper reminds readers of a series of libel suits it has faced since the beginning of 1999.

"Hayots Ashkhar," writing from a totally different perspective, says every demand made by the opposition deserves to be described as "rubbish." "Now they want the government to violate all laws and take a decision dear to their hearts, allowing companies that have lost tenders to operate."

"Golos Armenii" says the best way out of the tense situation is to give the opposition "unlimited air time." Viewers would quickly realize how shallow and irrelevant the opposition rhetoric is. They would eventually lose interest in opposition rallies. Otherwise, the pro-presidential paper says, the authorities will risk having "a quiet [TV] air but noisy squares."

"Or" says Kocharian and his entourage do not differentiate between "populism and demagogy." They fail to grasp the "importance of populism." As a result, Kocharian's propaganda machine does not differ significantly from that of his predecessor, Levon Ter-Petrosian.

Former foreign minister Raffi Hovannisian tells "Haykakan Zhamanak" that the Armenian side to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has suffered major setbacks under the current authorities in Yerevan. Hovannisian argues that the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic is no longer directly involved in the peace process. He also cautions both the authorities and the opposition against exploiting the Karabakh issue during the upcoming election campaign.

Dashnaktsutyun leader Vahan Hovannisian tells "Hayots Ashkhar" that he sees a growing belief in Russia that U.S. military presence in Central Asia and the South Caucasus does not run counter to Russian interests. He says if this belief has an impact on Russian public opinion Yerevan should make "appropriate corrections" in its foreign policy. Hovannisian, who is the chairman of the parliament committee on defense and security, at the same time expresses the hope that the U.S. will "rein in" Turkey's drive to strengthen its influence in the region.

(Vache Sarkisian)
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