(September 4, Saturday)
“Aravot” predicts that the pro-presidential majority in the Armenian parliament will not make good on threats to strip the opposition of its parliament seats. The paper says the parliament committee on legal affairs will formally declare the failure of the opposition MPs to attend National Assembly sessions “unjustified.” But it adds that the assembly will not take the next step and revoke any mandates.
One of the opposition deputies, Hrant Khachatrian, calls the government threats a “game” in an interview with “Hayots Ashkhar.” “That game was started by the authorities with the aim of detecting weak spots in the opposition camp which would begin to disintegrate. I think that the opposition will be in a beneficial position under any scenario.” It is the authorities that must now think about what to do next, he says.
“Let nobody hope that they will solve the existing problems by suppressing, cajoling or bribing the opposition,” Khachatrian adds. “If the situation does not change no government official will have an easy time until 2008.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” sees new indications of growing disagreements between President Robert Kocharian and Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian. The paper bases its conclusion on Kocharian’s apparent reluctance to fire the chairman of the National Olympic Committee, Ishkhan Zakarian, widely blamed for Armenia’s poor showing at the Athens games. Sarkisian has implicitly backed calls for Zakarian’s ouster. However, the latter has made it clear that he will not quit.
“It was just impossible not to notice Robert Kocharian’s ‘ears’ behind Zakarian’s defiant stance,” comments “Haykakan Zhamanak.” “With some of his public pronouncements, the defense minister lets it be known to everyone that he and Kocharian are no longer the same individuals, enabling Armenia’s governmental and political circles to make their calculations accordingly…New figures have emerged in the government elite. They have received a portion of government powers that were equally shared by Kocharian and Serzh Sarkisian. And most of that portion has clearly been taken away from Serzh Sarkisian. Besides, the defense minister could not have failed to notice rumors periodically spread from the presidential office about Western countries trying to persuade Robert Kocharian to sack Serzh Sarkisian, considering him the main obstacle to political reforms.”
Also according to “Haykakan Zhamanak,” the growing political clout of Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian does not sit well with Sarkisian. “This means that [Sarkisian’s] exclusion from the government pyramid is seen as an option by the presidential administration,” the paper claims.