“Haykakan Zhamanak” carries more reports on the planned expansion of the Armenian governing coalition. The paper says the parliamentary United Labor Party (MAK) and the People’s Deputy group of non-partisan legislators are already discussing whom to appoint to the cabinet.
The Dashnaktsutyun weekly “Yerkir” appears alarmed by such a prospect. The paper says it will not be difficult to lure into the coalition those groups that “only dream about having a minister” who would serve their vested interests. “The engineers of primitive reshuffles clearly understand that the most important thing is to spread word [about coalition changes] and that everything will then proceed automatically,” it says. “Yerkir” concludes that such a “re-editing of the coalition” can only lead to political upheavals and damage President Robert Kocharian and “couple of other persons.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says Dashnaktsutyun magazine “Droshak” ran in its October issue an editorial that contradicted statements by the nationalist party’s leaders. The commentary divided Armenian political parties into two categories: those that were set up to “serve the people” and those that are built around particular individuals that keep an iron grip on the country for power and personal enrichment. Personal self-interest is the “starting point” of policies formulated by such men, “Droshak” wrote. “Armenia today has an unsavory clan-based system that is responsible for the mechanisms of the regime’s self-reproduction,” the Dashnak magazine said.
“With such dual evaluations Dashnaktsutyun is, in effect, waiting for a convenient moment to take power in Armenia,” Haykakan Zhamanak” asserts.
“Prime Minister Andranik Markarian continues to prove his political viability and flexibility,” says “Iravunk,” pointing to his reported deal with the MAK and the People’s Deputy. The paper says Markarian also made overtures to the Armenian opposition when one of his closest associates, Galust Sahakian, “demonstratively” showed up at the trial of opposition leader Aram Sarkisian’s brother. “In essence, the prime minister found common ground with other pro-establishment forces, at the same time reminding Kocharian once again that he can always establish practical relations with the opposition if he wishes so.” This reduces the likelihood of a prime ministerial change in Armenia in the first half of 2004, according to “Iravunk.”
“Aravot” agrees with opposition leader Stepan Demirchian in that a referendum of confidence in Kocharian is “the most civilized way” of addressing the crisis of legitimacy in Armenia. But it cautions that this line of thinking carries serious pitfalls for the opposition. Even if the authorities eventually hold such a referendum they can easily falsify it just as they rigged this year’s elections, the paper argues. “What would the opposition do after that? After all, debating with the authorities on issues of domestic and foreign policy is totally meaningless for the current opposition. The Artarutyun bloc and National Unity have no ideological differences with the authorities on those issues.”
According to “Hayots Ashkhar,” there is nothing Armenia should learn or duplicate from Georgia. “The continuing parallels drawn by some oppositionists are absolutely ludicrous,” the paper says. It claims that the Georgians booted out their president simply because they wanted a resumption of the lavish American assistance which would give them another opportunity to “live at the expense of others.” “This is the real root cause, the driving force of the Georgian rose revolution.”