“Aravot” reports that the three parties represented in Armenia’s coalition government will start “intensive negotiations” on the distribution of vice-ministerial positions next week. The paper says half of the serving deputies will have to give way to partisan nominees. The latter will mainly represent the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) and Orinats Yerkir parties.
According to “Haykakan Zhamanak,” the staff changes will not affect the ministries of defense foreign affairs and justice as well as the police and national security services. Virtually all other ministries will have Dashnaktsutyun or Orinats Yerkir deputy heads. The paper dismisses the coalition’s arguments that the change is necessitated by their pledge of “collective responsibility.” Dashnaktsutyun and Orinats Yerkir, it says, simply want to get a larger share of the government pie.
“Golos Armenii” predicts stormy times ahead for Armenia’s ruling elite. “There is a politician for whom the coming year will be more tough than for Robert Kocharian,” the paper says. “It is [Defense Minister] Serzh Sarkisian.” Sarkisian has made many enemies in recent years and now holds the key to solutions to “too many problems.” “He is an attractive target for those who like to solve all problems with a single blow.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” says talk of a breakthrough in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process is a “disinformation.” “This process will gain particular momentum in pre-election Azerbaijan,” it says. “But we rule out the possibility of a quick settlement of the Karabakh conflict.” The paper sticks to its belief that the Armenian side should strive to preserve the status quo. That will require “speeding up the pace of the country’s economic development, modernizing the economy and the political system because here lies our Achilles heel which can be poked not today or tomorrow, but in the future when our budget might be ten times smaller than resource-rich Azerbaijan’s.”
“Azg” sees intensifying unrest in Georgia’s Azerbaijani-populated regions adjacent to Armenia. The paper cites rumors that protests by the local population are instigated by authorities in Tbilisi. “In order to insult each other politically in the pre-election struggle, Georgian politicians have repeatedly used the word ‘Armenian’,” it says, adding that President Eduard Shevardnadze has not condemned such statements despite his declared respect for the Armenian people.