With headlines like "The U.S. avoids the word genocide" and "Bush again reneges on pledge," the Armenian press reacts negatively to President Bush's April 24 message to the Armenian-American community.
But while "Haykakan Zhamanak" believes that another disappointment awaits Armenian-Americans next year, "Hayots Ashkhar" sees "new opportunities for Armenian diplomacy." The paper argues that the recent developments in the Middle East will result in "a new system of counterbalances where Israel and Turkey will find themselves on the opposite sides of new trenches." "In those conditions Armenia will get a real opportunity to replace the current pro-Turkish stance of the U.S. Jewish lobby with a clearly neutral and impartial attitude to the recognition of the Armenian genocide."
"Aravot" is more preoccupied with Thursday's court verdict on the A1+ channel's lawsuit against the National Commission on Television and Radio. The paper says Judge Nakhshun Tavaratsian ignored evidence of A1+'s illegal closure to hand down a verdict "ordered" by Robert Kocharian. It says the judge upheld a suppression of press freedom.
"Iravunk" says Kocharian is lacking consistency in his bid to stay in power for five more years. "The regime is making contradictory moves, and different steps are possible. One should not rule out certain concessions. But very tough steps seem more likely," the paper writes.
Arshak Sadoyan, an outspoken opposition leader, says if the 2003 elections are free and fair Kocharian will not get more than 8 percent of the vote. "He can not be reelected president even with usual fraud methods," he claims. Sadoyan says he is likely to join the presidential race next year to try to form "the atmosphere of a militant democracy."
"Azg" says the heightening opposition attacks will not bear fruit because Kocharian is "not a coward person." "Kocharian will not quit, will not tender his resignation," no matter how long and fervently the opposition leaders issue "irresponsible and unbalanced statements." All they can do is to hold anti-government demonstrations attended by several thousand people.
"Hayots Ashkhar" labels organizers of the opposition rallies as "mentally ill persons." The pro-Kocharian paper says the street protests will soon fizzle out.
"Where is Sevan's water, man?" "Haykakan Zhamanak" asks Environment Minister Vartan Ayvazian in a headline, perhaps making fun of the slang speech some officials use in addressing others. The paper reports that the water level of the ecologically endangered lake continues to fall despite government assurances that it is cutting back on the use of Sevan's waters for power generation. "All the facts testify that the authorities continue to pump water out of Lake Sevan for energy purposes." The paper suspects that the authorities are underreporting the amount of energy generated by hydroelectric power plants along Hrazdan River which is fed by Sevan. It suggests that they may be doing so to exaggerate gas imports into Armenia and pocket huge amounts of state funds earmarked for the purchase of fuel.