Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian tells “Ayb-Fe” that he is unaware of the content of new peace proposals prepared by the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group. But he says that judging from “hints” made by group’s Russian co-chair, Yuri Merzlyakov, those proposals remain “within the framework of the Paris and Key West agreements.” “So have no reason to worry,” he says. The powerful minister also says that the renewed Azerbaijani threats to resolve the conflict by force are a “blackmail.” “Azerbaijan’s wishes do not match its capabilities. If they were able [to wage a new war] they would not ask anyone [for permission] or gloat. They would immediately get down to action,” he argues.
“Hayots Ashkhar” says the Karabakh mediators are clearly preparing ground for a new peace push. This fact is causing concern in Armenia and especially Azerbaijan which is about to hold a presidential election. The Karabakh Armenians, for their part, are stepping up their demands for being allowed back into the negotiating table. But the paper believes that a final solution to the problem remains a “mission impossible” and again makes a case for “freezing” the conflict for many more years.
“Aravot” says Turkey continues to stick to its preconditions for normalizing relations with Armenia despite Serzh Sarkisian’s claims that the reopening of the Turkish-Armenian border may be “a matter of months.” The paper also quotes a spokesman for the anti-Turkish Dashnaktsutyun party, Gegham Manukian, as downplaying Sarkisian’s strong support for the lifting of the Turkish blockade. (Dashnaktsutyun is opposed to that.) Manukian indicates that Sarkisian is not in a position to steer Armenia’s foreign policy and that his comments are simply an opinion expressed by a government member.
Dashnaktsutyun’s “Yerkir” weekly also rages at the Armenian supporters of an open border. The paper criticizes relevant government officials for their “impatience” and promises of a more rosy economic future which they said would result from cross-border commerce with Turkey. Besides, the paper says, Ankara is adamant in linking improvement in bilateral relations to the Karabakh conflict and does not intent to soften its Armenian policy.
According to “Iravunk,” Serzh Sarkisian is already openly speaking of the need to groom a successor for Kocharian. The paper also sees a mounting “attack” on Sarkisian by some unnamed governing circles. All of this, it says, is happening against the backdrop of worsening relations between Prime Minister Andranik Markarian’s Republican Party and its junior coalition partner Orinats Yerkir. “If all of this results in regime change, it is likely to be a palace change since the two opposition wings, Artarutyun and National Unity, are busy solving their own political issues instead of forming a single anti-Kocharian front.”
An Artarutyun leader, Aram Sarkisian, tells “Haykakan Zhamanak” that he will start attending parliament sessions only when there is a “real possibility for regime change.” “I am really not in a mood to discuss some bills with the authorities because we would thereby legitimize the regime,” he says. “I find meaningless my participation in discussions on minor laws in a country where the basic law has been trampled.”