Citing “diplomatic sources,” “Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that the Russian, French and U.S. co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group will finish drawing up the new Karabakh peace proposals after their visit to the region which begins on Friday. The paper says some members of Armenia’s parliament feel that the recent closed parliamentary hearings on Karabakh attended by Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian were part of President Kocharian’s efforts to explore public mood ahead of the mediator’s new initiative. Kocharian, they say, was well aware that deputies will not fail to leak Oskanian’s comments to the media. It was therefore no surprise that all details of the hearings appeared in newspapers the next day.
“Oskanian tried to prepare deputies for the co-chairs’ proposals which will most probably be phased,” says “Haykakan Zhamanak.” It also notes that political forces in Armenia are now not as “determined” on Karabakh as they were in 1997.
“Azg” suggests that the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan had a chance to familiarize themselves with the co-chairs’ “new ideas” on Karabakh at their separate meetings last week with the latter held on the fringes of a high-level OSCE meeting in Maastricht, Holland. The paper also quotes the chief U.S. negotiator, Rudolf Perina, as saying that conditions are now ripe for achieving a breakthrough in the negotiating process. It says the government of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic shares this view, while questioning Azerbaijan’s commitment to a compromise solution.
“Iravunk” agrees with the Armenian opposition in that Kocharian would like to reject the new Minsk Group plan through a nationwide referendum. “In essence, holding a referendum is the only way for Robert Kocharian to maintain the status quo and delay a settlement variant not favorable for the Armenians,” the paper writes. It at the same time does not rule out the possibility that Kocharian will find himself in a situation in which his predecessor Levon Ter-Petrosian was in late 1997.
“Yerkir” lambastes the government for presenting its policies benefiting the population as a favor which must not be taken for granted. “Any raising of salaries is regarded [by the government] as a donation,” the paper says. It says the government claims a lack of money only when it comes to helping the poor. Senior government officials never lack it they raise their salaries or buy luxury cars.