(Saturday, February 21)
“It turns out that Azerbaijan was really serious about its intention to restart everything from scratch, and the murder in Budapest of the Armenian officer is the zero point from which Azerbaijan started in 1988 by staging massacres of Armenians in [the town of] Sumgait,” says “Hayastani Hanrapetutyun.” “The anti-Armenian sentiment escalating on the state level in Azerbaijan has born fruit which can not fail to reflect on the fairly tolerant attitude shown by Armenian society towards Azerbaijani society so far.” The government-controlled paper says the Budapest killing should prompt the international community to end its equal treatment of both parties to the Karabakh conflict.
“This crime was predictable given the aggressive, revengeful and insidious behavior of the Azerbaijani side at various inter-state and civil society contacts [with Armenians],” writes “Hayots Ashkhar.” The paper similarly links the killing to Azerbaijan’s refusal to allow Armenian servicemen to attend NATO-led military exercises to be held on its territory this year and the “connivance” with which the alliance reacted to it.
“How can we respond to this outrageous murder?” asks “Golos Armenii.” “Not with retaliatory killings, of course. We must continue to reinforce our country and army so that we can crush the enemy in an open fight and not bow this time to calls for restraint by those who are now very careful in denouncing the murderers, thereby provoking them into new crimes.”
Deputy parliament speaker Tigran Torosian assures “Hayots Ashkhar” that Armenia’s ruling coalition is not in disarray and will not collapse. But he cautions that a repeat of “incautious statements” made by Dashnaktsutyun leader Hrant Markarian would raise “serious questions” about the coalition’s future. “Respect must be mutual in the coalition as well as the entire political field,” Torosian says.
“It is not right to say everything publicly when you have partners,” Torosian says in a separate interview with “Aravot,” underlining his Republican Party’s exasperation with Markarian’s controversial speech. Torosian is glad that there are “essential differences” between that speech and the concluding statement of the Dashnaktsutyun congress. Dashnaktsutyun has “seriously reconsidered” the views expressed by its most influential leader, he says.
In another indication of the Republicans’ anger, “Aravot” quotes one of their parliament deputies, Hermine Naghdalian, as reminding that ringleader Nairi Hunanian phoned Hrant Markarian from the parliament building on October 27, 1999 to inform that he has just “swatted” Prime Minister Vazgen Sarkisian.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that President Robert Kocharian and leaders of the three coalition parties met late Friday to discuss the renewed coalition tensions. The paper says Dashnak leaders Vahan Hovannisian and Armen Rustamian distanced themselves from Markarian’s speech and told the Republicans not to take it too seriously. As for Kocharian, he did not take sides and urged his allies to avoid such disagreements in the future.