"Hayastani Hanrapetutyun" says this week's Armenia-Diaspora conference was a success. It was all the more "symbolic" that the sessions continued on May 28, the Armenian independence day. The government paper cites President Kocharian's statement that the very fact of so many Armenians from around the world converging on Yerevan is remarkable.
Independent newspapers are less enthusiastic, saying that one should not have excessive expectation from the gathering. As "Hayots Ashkhar" notes, the main highlight of the conference was Kocharian's speech and a concluding declaration.
But "Azg" cautions that the document sets no "concrete objectives." Still, the paper adds, the second conference was "more business-like" than the previous one held in September 1999. There was much talk of creating a special body coordinating Armenia's and the Diaspora's activities. Most participants had no clear idea of how it should operate though. "The views were so different and diverse that it is impossible to generalize them," the paper writes.
"One gets the impression that our authorities are forging links not with the Diaspora but with Diaspora millionaires, and that those links are not as beneficial for our state and our people as they are for those millionaires and the authorities," editorializes "Aravot." Granting Diaspora investors legal privileges in Armenia, often to the detriment of local entrepreneurs, is much worse than "begging for their peanuts," the paper says. So it is not just the Diaspora Armenians that should tell Armenia not to view them as a mere source of money. The opposite is also true. Their bilateral cooperation should cover all areas except politics. As far as domestic Armenian politics is concerned, the Diaspora should only "do what is good for Armenia" and stop aspiring to a political role.
"Bowing to the Diaspora Armenians' feelings, illusions and demands could contradict interests of our state. It is we, the citizens of the Republic of Armenia, who will be living in this region, and sending us patriotic appeals from say Glendale or Beirut is a very easy job," "Aravot" continues. "Those people should be advised: 'If you are so patriotic, if your heart is so much filled with pain for Armenia, then come and live in Armenia'."
"Hayots Ashkhar" gives details of Monday's reported beating of parliament deputy Martin Hovannisian by a prominent local businessman, Ruben Hayrapetian, and his bodyguards. The paper claims that the latter are now trying to "terrorize the deputy psychologically." On Tuesday night, for example, they sent "envoys" to Hovannisian to "ward off any complaints" to law-enforcement agencies.