According to “Hayots Ashkhar,” President Robert Kocharian’s speech in Strasbourg marked a long-awaited “U-turn” in Armenian policy on Nagorno-Karabakh. Kocharian, the paper says, “moved the resolution of the Karabakh problem into the legal plane” by declaring that Karabakh had never been part of an independent Azerbaijani state and had a legitimate right to secede from Soviet Azerbaijan in 1991. It says Europe should embrace this line of reasoning to recognize Karabakh’s independence and “ensure a lasting peace in the entire region.”
“The authorities must at last realize that foreign policy is a continuation of internal one and that in the contemporary world it is possible to attain national goals only by having a democratic state and a legitimate government,” writes “Ayb-Fe.” The paper says both the government and the opposition should reconsider their tactics. The latter must avoid seeking external assistance for its agenda. “Kocharian has proved that if issues are to be solved through agreements with external forces then he is the favorite.”
“Having no problems in Strasbourg at the moment does not mean that problems will not arise later on,” says “Iravunk,” arguing that the Armenian authorities will no longer be able to use promises of political reform as a substitute for real action a few months from now. On top that, the paper says, there has been a “drastic” upsurge in government infighting. “Robert Kocharian’s rule is not as strong as it is being presented,” the paper claims. “If the president was confronted with a fairly strong opposition then chances of regime change would be quite big. But that doesn’t mean that the government will face no strong opposition in the near future as well.”
“Aravot” editorializes that by urging the Council of Europe to conclude that the Armenian opposition is not denied access to television air and to remove the reopening of the independent A1+ channel from its agenda Kocharian admitted that A1+ was closed in 2002 for political reasons. “Now, after the elections, opposition representatives can be seen on various TV companies, including the public one,” it says. “The authorities today have no particular need for censorship. But this doesn’t mean that the problem of A1+ must be automatically removed from the Parliamentary Assembly’s agenda. Today that problem is as pressing as ever.”
Interviewed by “Haykakan Zhamanak,” A1+ boss Mesrop Movsesian scoffs at Kocharian’s remarks. Movsesian says the authorities have instructed loyal television stations to invite and interview opposition leaders more often.