According to “Aravot,” Armenia’s progress in the 13-year transition to democracy is as significant as the fact that famous poetess Silva Kaputikian has not been jailed or sent into exile for returning her state award to President Robert Kocharian. “In some respects, the authoritarianism of the current government exceeds that of the erstwhile [Communist] party bosses,” the paper writes. “At least on surface, the latter were pretending to reckon with public opinion and were not allowing the nomenklatura to overtly and shamelessly flaunt their undeserved incomes. Besides, the Bolsheviks would never openly boast that they have dispersed peaceful demonstrators with truncheons and water cannons.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that the Armenian parliament will vote on September 13 whether or not to oust its 24 opposition members from the National Assembly over their continuing boycott of its sessions. The paper says the parliament’s pro-presidential majority will likely revoke their mandates unless the opposition engages in a dialogue with the ruling coalition. “We have given the opposition 30 days for a meaningful repentance,” an unnamed pro-government lawmaker is quoted as saying.
“Nonetheless, many believe that the parliamentary majority has decided to bluff in a bid to rein in the opposition and will in no case dare to strip the opposition deputies of their mandates,” comments “Haykakan Zhamanak.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” says the former ruling Armenian Pan-National Movement (HHSh) party increasingly signals its desire to team up with the opposition Artarutyun bloc and create a “staunchly pro-Western” force at the behest of unspecified external forces. “The increase in HHSh ambitions primarily has to do with the specificities of the international political situation in which Armenia has found itself because of the regime change in Georgia, NATO’s Istanbul summit and the existence of prospects for re-orienting the whole region towards the European Union and the United States.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that Georgia and Iran have agreed on supplies of Iranian natural gas through Azerbaijan. The paper says the agreement deals a blow to Armenia’s hopes of becoming a transit spot for Iranian gas exports to Georgia and other countries. It notes that the Iran-Armenia gas pipeline, to be constructed in the near future, will not be big enough to pump the fuel to third nations. Armenia has thus enabled Azerbaijan to have “a new field of common interest” with Iran, giving Baku a new “trump card” in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
“Azg” predicts that the Armenian leadership will not follow through on its threat to block Turkey’s efforts to assume the one-year rotating presidency of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in 2007. “Yerevan must be firm on the issue of vetoing Turkey and stop impeding Turkish presidency of the OSCE only after getting an appropriate payback,” the paper says, adding that Ankara must lift the economic blockade in exchange for that.