The Armenian parliament comes under attack from the pro-opposition press for Tuesday's votes in favor of several government proposals and bills. "Haykakan Zhamanak" and "Aravot" dismiss it as a "rubber-stamp" and "weak-willed" body.
"Aravot" says the deputies endorsed the government's deals with two Diaspora Armenian business people without even bothering to familiarize themselves with their terms. The paper says the government was hardly driven by altruistic motives when it decided to grant the Diaspora entrepreneurs preferential treatment.
"Haykakan Zhamanak" believes that President Kocharian's resignation would not necessarily resolve Armenia's main problems. Very few Armenian politicians would commit themselves to ruling out election fraud, pressure on courts and corruption once they come to power. "In every sphere, somebody has to say 'enough is enough'." The most immediate challenge for the nation is to make sure that the presidential and parliamentary elections of 2003 are not rigged.
"Azg" says Armenians will have to choose among the same pool of politicians. "New faces" are unlikely to emerge before the polls.
"Hayots Ashkhar" says next week's meeting in Prague of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs and personal representatives of the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents will result in serious changes in the negotiating process. The mediators are well aware that public opinion in Armenia and Azerbaijan is "not ready to accept any variant of the final resolution of the problem." This fact may make it impossible for them to achieve a breakthrough in 2003.
"Azg" quotes Moscow-based political scientist Andranik Migranian as calling for "meaningful discussions on how to improve Turkish-Armenian relations." Migranian repeats his belief that Turkish-Armenian tensions may ease if there is "a certain superpower" in the region capable of "imposing solutions on the conflicting parties." That superpower is the United States, which has been "increasingly stepping up its presence in the region" since the September 11 terrorist attacks. Armenians from around the world, Migranian says, should use this as an opportunity to ascertain their
demands and convey them to the U.S. Migranian says Armenia should take into account the fact that Russian policy towards the South Caucasus is currently "very ambiguous." Yerevan's relations with Moscow should undergo major changes if the latter acquiesces to growing U.S. engagement in the region. "So talking about complementary [foreign] policy becomes irrelevant. The Armenian side's room for maneuver has now narrowed drastically," he concludes.