(Saturday, May 15)
“Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” reports bitingly on “yet another indecisive” rally held by the Armenian opposition on Friday, saying that it again failed to bring together a “critical mass” of supporters. The paper says the opposition is now keen to shift responsibility for its failure to unseat President Robert Kocharian to the people.
“Azg” singles out from opposition leaders’ speeches Artashes Geghamian’s charge that maverick oppositionist Aram Karapetian is a government “agent.” “Talking about sell-outs, it is worth recalling the presidential elections of 2003 when Geghamian did not join Stepan Demirchian, thereby facilitating Robert Kocharian’s election as president,” the paper snipes at the National Unity Party leader.
“Aravot” finds a number of new elements in the opposition campaign. “The first important news is that the opposition leaders’ speeches were relatively more constructive and program-based,” the paper explains.
“Aravot” editorializes separately that the reason why the talks between the opposition and the ruling coalition collapsed is that neither side is genuinely interested in dialogue. “None of these political forces is willing to jointly discuss serious issues because doing that is not beneficial for either party due to a number of political factors,” it says.
“The united opposition has not succeeded in achieving its main objective as yet. Namely, to raise the number of participants of the anti-Kocharian rallies to 150,000-200,000,” “Haykakan Zhamanak” writes in an extensive analysis of the political situation in the country. The paper speculates that the West is worried about this reality and is now trying to “create prerequisites” for former President Levon Ter-Petrosian’s return to active politics. The best way to do that is to revive public debate in Armenia on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The paper says Ter-Petrosian knows that he stands no chance of returning to power without the backing of Geghamian, Demirchian and Aram Sarkisian and hopes that the opposition trio will realize that “without Ter-Petrosian it is no longer able to deal a victorious blow to Kocharian’s rule.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” says the opposition leaders pin their hopes not on “several thousand disaffected citizens” but on foreign powers. Their strategy, the paper says, is to discredit the Armenian authorities in the international arena by “creating new problems inside the country.” “Armenia now occupies such an important position in the region that even if no orders are issued by the world heavyweights, such stubborn [opposition] offers can not be ignored as additional levers of pressure on the incumbent government,” the paper says.
“I don’t think that this situation can be characterized as a crisis,” Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian tells “Hayots Ashkhar” in an interview. “There is a problem, but not a crisis. I would like to mention another thing. Maybe my opinion differs from governing circles’ view that these events in the domestic political stage do not affect progress in our economy. I believe they do.” Sarkisian says that potential investors take opposition promises of “decisive” action against the authorities seriously. He at the same time argues that regime change is impossible because “Armenia has already become a state that has all the levers to both maintain constitutional law and order and ensure people’s freedoms.”