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Press Review


The seventh anniversary of the adoption of the Armenian constitution draws commentary from most of Friday's newspapers.

"Aravot," which supports the former authorities that ruled Armenia in 1995, again extols perceived virtues of the controversial basic law and reiterates its opposition to any constitutional amendments. Constitutional reform is fraught with "unpredictable complications," the paper wars.

"Haykakan Zhamanak" says the constitution will be a mere piece of paper unless it is respected by the majority of Armenia's citizens. This is not the case at the moment.

"Hayastani Hanrapetutyun," meanwhile, urges those citizens to "believe that the time of not believing is coming to an end." The government-controlled daily sees marked improvements in the country's political and economic life in the first half of the year. It says fruitful cooperation between the government and the parliament majority is the main guarantee of "political stability and economic progress."

But "Haykakan Zhamanak" dismisses those claims, urging readers not to trust government figures testifying to economic improvement. It also says that the government is no longer willing to let President Robert Kocharian claim credit for the "economic miracle." This is a sign that Prime Minister Andranik Markarian has enhanced his political influence over the past year. "At least, nobody could have predicted that Markarian will become so influential," the paper writes.

"Orran" takes the view that the parliament’s decision to approve new changes in Armenia’s electoral system will benefit "everybody except Kocharian and Dashnaktsutyun." This is a major victory for Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian who is believed to oppose a rise in Dashnaktsutyun's clout. The paper claims that Kocharian was thus forced to "turn his back to Dashnaktsutyun," his preferred support base.

The Dashnak weekly "Yerkir" editorializes that the nationalist party is undaunted by its latest setbacks. It tells political analysts to "wait for our next victories." The paper is more worried about the political comeback of former president Levon Ter-Petrosian and his allies.

"Hayots Ashkhar" says a decision by Ter-Petrosian to run for president would
bury opposition hopes for fielding a single candidate in next year's elections. It would split the radical opposition into "pro-Western and pro-Russian wings."

Former prime minister Aram Sarkisian tells "Haykakan Zhamanak" that he and his opposition Hanrapetutyun party "welcome the first president's return to politics." Asked about the possibility of a joint presidential candidate from the opposition, he replies: "We should put a very serious force against Kocharian, and it was no coincidence when Mr. [Albert] Bazeyan did not rule out that the single candidate will be from beyond the alliance of 13 [opposition] parties. Let the authorities have no hope that we will name the single candidate now. The joint candidate will be announced&no sooner than 20 days before the elections."

(Vache Sarkisian)
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