“The opposition has no [popular] masses behind them, while the government has masses in front of them,” sociologist Hranush Kharatian, who heads the government’s department of minority affairs, describes the political situation in Armenia in a “Hayots Ashkhar” interview. Kharatian says there has been no real dialogue between the government and the opposition. What the two camps did instead was to “label” each other. “I see nothing new in store,” she says.
Interviewed by “Aravot,” a spokeswoman for the opposition Artarutyun alliance, Ruzan Khachatrian, rounds on former President Levon Ter-Petrosian’s allies for their criticism of Armenia’s mainstream opposition. She says that the former ruling Armenian Pan-National Movement (HHSh) has failed to display a “sincere desire for cooperation” with Artarutyun and is trying instead to use the alliance for “satisfying personal ambitions.” “Besides, if the HHSh wants to return to politics and do something other than roundtable discussions … it must at least admit its mistakes,” Khachatrian says.
“We have developed a peculiar formula,” “Yerkir” says in an editorial. “If you are in government, then you are obliged to totally ignore shortcomings of government actions, justify any government step, see only good things and, of course, criticize and denounce any statement or proposal made by the opposition. The same logic exists on the opposite side, in the opposition.” This zero sum game precludes any constructive dialogue within the political elite, concludes the paper.
“Iravunk” says talk of a sweeping personnel reshuffle in the Armenian government is likely to materialize into concrete results in the next two months. The paper says that will lead to a change in the distribution of ministerial posts among the three coalition parties. “The number one candidate for being sacked is Minister for Local Government Hovik Abrahamian. The fate of the current police chief is also in quite a serious doubt.” The paper claims that Abrahamian might be replaced by the chief of President Robert Kocharian’s staff, Artashes Tumanian. The appointment would “considerably weaken Prime Minister Andranik Markarian’s positions.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” speculates that Thursday’s lengthy talks in Kazakhstan between Kocharian and Azerbaijan’s President Ilham Aliev failed to break the deadlock in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The paper says skeptics believe that the two sides are only trying to leave the impression of progress towards an Armenian-Azerbaijani peace accord. “In reality, the approaches of the conflicting parties are now so far apart that it is impossible to come to an agreement. The presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan are simply forced to imitate concrete steps and agreements because they are facing strong pressure from the international community to begin a new series of meetings and continue the peace talks.”