Robert Kocharian’s spokesman, Vahe Gabrielian, assures “Hayots Ashkhar” that the forthcoming presidential election “will not affect the president’s resolve” to seek a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. He also tells “Aravot” that Kocharian is “not particularly enthusiastic” about Education Minister Levon Mkrtchian’s directive ordering all secondary schools post his portraits.
Vahan Shirkhanian, a former influential government minister and a bitter Kocharian foe, says Armenia has “effectively lost its sovereignty” and is “devoid of resistance capacity.” Therefore, Shirkhanian tells “Orran,” a regime change is now a “vital necessity” for the country. He says Kocharian is not eligible to run for president and his continued “illegitimacy” would mean negative consequences for Armenia.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says the timing of the October 5 congress of the opposition National Unity party has a “psychological subtext.” Artashes Geghamian’s party is the first member of the 16-party opposition coalition to hold a pre-election convention. According to a scenario written by Geghamian, 600 or so delegates of the congress will nominate him as a presidential candidate with a standing ovation. Leaders of the 15 other opposition parties will also be present at the proceedings and they simply can not fail to stand up. This will leave the impression that Geghamian is a candidate of the united opposition.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says that People’s Party (HZhK) leader Stepan Demirchian, whose relations with Geghamian are far from being cordial, is well aware of this scenario and is now looking for ways of not attending the planned jamboree without offending National Unity. “HZhK people say that they will not stand up because when [their late founder] Karen Demirchian was elected as chairman of the National Assembly the entire parliament (even the Dashnaks) gave him a standing ovation, and the only deputy who remained seated was Geghamian,” the paper reports.
“Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” predicts that the HZhK and National Unity will endorse only their leaders as presidential candidates. “So the alliance of 16 will soon split into at least two parts.” By putting forward his candidacy one month after Geghamian’s nomination Demirchian will ward off accusations that he was responsible for the opposition rift.
“Hayots Ashkhar” accuses the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe of displaying a “clearly biased attitude” toward Armenia at its last session in Strasbourg. The paper says this results from Europe’s “obsession with the death penalty issue.” Some Armenian political circles know this very well, but are deliberately blocking abolition of the death penalty in order to create additional problems for the authorities. They are not driven by a “sincere desire” to bring to justice perpetrators of the October 1999 massacre in the Armenian parliament.