“Aravot” and “Haykakan Zhamanak” carry a furious reaction from opposition leader Artashes Geghamian to the latest harsh criticism directed at him by Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian. “Don’t try to bring me down to that level, I am well above that age,” he tells Sarkisian through the newspapers.
According to “Haykakan Zhamanak,” the intensifying war of words between the two men only proves that they used to collaborate closely. “The life experience shows that the degree of enmity existing between Sarkisian and Geghamian can only be reached by former partners that had decided to do business together and that business turned sour, disappointing one of the parties or both of them,” the paper says. That “joint business,” it says, was the parliamentary elections of 2003, with Sarkisian hoping initially to team up with Geghamian and win the polls the way his assassinated predecessor, Vazgen Sarkisian, had done in May 1999. But the defense minister “retreated from the initial plan” after Geghamian’s failure to some in second in the 2003 presidential election.
The deputy speaker of the Armenian parliament, Tigran Torosian, tells “Hayots Ashkhar” that he believes a renewed campaign of street protests which Geghamian and Stepan Demirchian are trying to launch will again fizzle out and leave the opposition in a deadlock. “It would be much better and more effective to meet and jointly discuss the existing problems,” Torosian says. “The government and the opposition are doomed to work together.” None of them would benefit from an escalation of political tensions, he adds. Torosian also believes that a repeat of serious irregularities reported in the 2003 Armenian elections would raise the prospect of Armenia’s expulsion from “the European community.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” writes that Armenia must triple or at least double its state budget to $1 billion in the next few years if it is to be able to “cope with severe competition that is being imposed on it.” The paper sees mainly political remedies for “not lagging behind Azerbaijan in economic competition.” This would require the formulation of “pan-national objectives” espoused by the main political groups in Armenia and its Diaspora. “Now that the Karabakh negotiation process is being delayed we are given, in essence, the last chance to turn from words to action and prevent the prospect of defeat in the economic competition.”