“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that “several dozen” non-governmental organizations will convene a conference on Friday to nominate Levon Ter-Petrosian for the upcoming presidential elections. The paper also says that the 16-party opposition alliance has drawn up a timetable of actions which specifies at what point opposition candidates should withdraw from the race in support of only one contender. “The number one goal of the coalition continues to be an effective mechanism for the selection of a joint candidate. But there are no such candidates at the moment,” the paper says.
“Hayots Ashkhar” continues to make the point that there is no credible alternative to the current Armenian authorities. The main reason for that, according to the paper, is the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. There is an overall consensus in Armenian society over how to make peace with Azerbaijan. Only Ter-Petrosian and his allies offer a different prescription. In these circumstances, even Stepan Demirchian has no chance of coming to power as it is impossible to “reincarnate his [late] father’s charisma.” Artashes Geghamian’s and Raffi Hovannisian’s attempts to win a top government position are also doomed to failure, according to “Hayots Ashkhar.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” is at the same time concerned that rising political tensions could damage the country as a whole. Especially given the fact that most people are indifferent to the ongoing political battles. “Armenia could emerge from such a standoff as a conglomerate of divided, extremely weakened and mutually hostile people. Governing a society made up of such people would be much more difficult than obtaining the majority of their votes.”
For “Golos Armenii,” the key question is which presidential candidate will be endorsed by “dwarf parties” dominating the opposition alliance. The paper expects that as many as four presidential candidates will emerge from the opposition alliance. Ter-Petrosian, it says, will be “the number two candidate after Kocharian,” if he decides to run for president. This demonstrates just how weak the mainstream opposition is. “In any case, Ter-Petrosian’s nomination would only harm the radical opposition and further facilitate Kocharian’s victory.”
“Orran” says that “extremely great importance is attached” to this week’s meeting in Prague between the Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents. Citing unspecified “unofficial information,” the paper claims that international mediators have lost any hope for a final peace deal on Karabakh before the Armenian and Azerbaijani elections and are instead pushing for an interim agreement. That document will list agreed “common approaches” to ending the Karabakh dispute. It will be kept secret until after the 2003 elections. “In the meantime, the Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders are giving Washington and Paris guarantees that in the event of their reelection they will sign the already prepared agreement to resolve the conflict in return for receiving Europe’s and America’s support during the elections.”