(Saturday, December 8)
“Haykakan Zhamanak” and “Aravot” underline Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Trubnikov Friday reference in Baku to “the occupation by Armenia of a part of Azerbaijan's territory.” Both pro-opposition dailies says this was the first time a Russian official made such statements in public and suspect a pro-Azerbaijani tilt in Moscow’s Karabakh policy.
“I don’t think that something particularly new should be expected from the [OSCE Minsk Group] co-chairs’ visit,” Republican Party leader Galust Sahakian tells “Hayots Ashkhar.” Hrair Karapetian, a senior parliament deputy from another governing party, the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), dismisses as “baseless” media speculation that the mediators may come up with a phased solution to the conflict during their latest trip. Mher Shahgelgian of the third coalition party, Orinats Yerkir, also believes that the mediators are unlikely to draft proposals that would “shake” the political establishments of Armenia and Azerbaijan.
But according to opposition leader Vazgen Manukian, Armenia should not anticipate anything better from the Minsk Group after this year’s fraudulent presidential and parliamentary elections. Manukian tells “Haykakan Zhamanak” that international criticism of the elections damaged Armenia’s international standing and can not fail to have corresponding repercussions for the Karabakh peace process. Commenting on domestic politics, Manukian derides President Kocharian’s attacks on the Armenian opposition that followed the dramatic regime change in Georgia.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” carries on its front page an excerpt from late Prime Minister Vazgen Sarkisian’s 1999 interview in which he warned against any attempts to give Armenia’s Meghri region to Azerbaijan as part of a possible peace deal on Karabakh. “Meghri is more important than any other thing,” Sarkisian said at the time, adding that the region bordering Iran makes Armenia a significant player in the eyes of the world’s leading powers. “If you give away Meghri, you will mix your blood with petrol that will not poison but blow up your brain,” he warned figuratively. “I am warning that Meghri will one day explode in the center of Yerevan.”
But as the deputy speaker of the Armenian parliament, Tigran Torosian, says, some of the challenges facing Armenia are even more pressing than the issues of Meghri and Karabakh. “I am convinced that Meghri will not be at issue,” Torosian says. “But I am not convinced that if we put aside the question of Meghri and even if the Karabakh issue is resolved and the nearby districts are united with Armenia, our future will be secured.”