“I think that the domestic situation must be radically changed,” Garnik Isagulian, an adviser to President Robert Kocharian, tells “Hayots Ashkhar.” Isagulian says Kocharian’s June speech in Strasbourg has not been followed up by “adequate” changes in Armenia. “The government continues to operate with the same make-up. Prospects for a real reform of the legislative sphere are murky for the moment.” On top of that is the coalition parties’ failure to agree on election law amendments amongst themselves, let alone with the opposition, he adds.
“Azg” believes that Sunday’s by-election to the Armenian parliament should clarify who wields more political influence in the country: parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian or Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian. The paper says Kocharian has recently invited both men to his office to try to ease their rivalry. They seemed to agree to ensure a peaceful electoral race, but at a restaurant dinner only a few days later several Baghdasarian associates raised a toast to “the future president of Armenia” and made less than respectful comments about Hovsepian.
“Azg” claims that Baghdasarian’s presidential ambitions are backed and encouraged by France. “The authorities in Paris intend to give Artur Baghdasarian France’s highest award, the Legion d’Honneur, in the coming months,” it says, citing unspecified “credible diplomatic sources. “President Kocharian is not quite delighted with the French initiative and, according to unconfirmed reports, Armenia’s Ambassador to France Eduard Nalbandian is now making efforts to delay the ceremony.” The paper says a former French ambassador in Yerevan has indicated his country’s desire to see Baghdasarian becoming the next Armenian president, arguing that the speaker “is not hated by Armenia’s population.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports, meanwhile, that the coalition partners of Baghdasarian’s Orinats Yerkir Party are unwilling to lend their support for the Orinats Yerkir candidate in the by-election. “This is not our fight,” an unnamed senior member of the Dashnaktsutyun party is quoted as saying. “Only idiots join strangers’ party. Dashnaktsutyun does not take part in gladiator fights.”
“Aravot” wonders why two men who were arrested in April for allegedly plotting to shoot at Artashes Geghamian on orders from another opposition leader have been sentenced to one year in prison only for illegal arms possession. Geghamian tells the paper that the purpose of the arrest, publicized by state television, was to drive a wedge between his National Unity Party and the Artarutyun bloc.