The murder of an Armenian military officer in Hungary remains a top story in “Hayots Ashkhar” which criticizes the way the Armenian Foreign Ministry reacted to the crime. “If Azerbaijan had found itself in our situation its foreign ministry would have immediately come up with a statement accusing Armenia of not just unleashing anti-Azerbaijani propaganda but conducting state terror,” the paper says. “That would have been followed by a statement from the Azerbaijani representative to the U.N. demanding that Armenia be brought to account for terrorism. The same would have been done from all European stages, and Azerbaijan would have made its further participation in NATO programs conditional on the latter making a political assessment of the incident.”
The Foreign Ministry is also attacked by “Azg” for allegedly not caring about a draft European Parliament resolution that carries references to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict which are “not pro-Armenian.” The document, drafted by Swedish lawmaker Per Gahrton, is due to be finally debated and passed later this week. The paper claims that the European Union might use Gahrton’s findings for future “initiatives” on Karabakh.
Opposition leader Aram Sarkisian tells “Iravunk” that President Robert Kocharian’s Karabakh policy has not been consistent. Kocharian, he says, argued as recently as last year that Karabakh has to be represented by Armenia in internationally sponsored peace talks but now admits that Stepanakert must become involved in the negotiations. “That means there is no clear-cut approach [to the issue],” Sarkisian says. On domestic politics Sarkisian says that Kocharian’s repeated public statements that he will not quit under opposition pressure only serve to prove that his days in power are numbered. “I imagine regime change in the good sense of the word revolution, in a democratic way, with popular support. There only remains a final call [for protests] which I think the public will not wait for long. That will be a call for actions.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that the government will submit to parliament this week a draft law on rallies and other public gatherings. The paper says the legislation is aimed at neutralizing opposition plans to launch a campaign of anti-Kocharian protests this spring. It would empower the authorities to ban opposition demonstrations “under any ludicrous pretext” and facilitate their disruption by the government’s “agents provocateurs.” “At the same time the law ignores European structures’ insistence on the inadmissibility of administrative or criminal prosecution of rally participants.”
“The atmosphere is escalating in a way characteristic of a pre-election period,” comments “Iravunk.” This atmosphere may well result in dramatic events threatening Kocharian’s hold on power, the paper says.
“Aravot” argues against government plans to scrap military service exemptions and deferments enjoyed by male graduate students. The paper says government assurances that the move would stamp out university corruption is “an illusion.” “As a result of this decision, the army could only be bolstered by those young men who are really gifted and have scientific potential. But it is more likely that those young men will simply decide to flee Armenia. And he who gives bribes will continue to give them and evade the army.”