(Saturday, September 18)
“Haykakan Zhamanak” claims that the “sensational” release from jail of Samvel Babayan, the former Nagorno-Karabakh army commander, will be welcomed by most Armenians no matter how critical they might be of his years in power. The paper suggests that the amnesty granted to him could be linked to the intensifying peace talks on Karabakh.
“Aravot” proposes mockingly that Armenia’s main independence holiday be moved from September 21 to February 4 because “on that day, in 1998, honest and patriotic forces came to power.” It also urges Armenians to replace the mostly offensive nicknames of their business oligarchs with more respectable ones. “And in order to make our double-digit growth more visible, all oligarchs must be forced to increase the number of jeeps escorting them on the streets to 50.” The Armenian authorities should also create a human rights award that will carry the name of one of President Robert Kocharian’s bodyguards who was convicted of beating to death a man in a Yerevan café.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that the leaders of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) pressed for “serious cadre and systemic changes” in the country at a meeting with Kocharian on Friday. One of them, Armen Rustamian, also expressed concern at the content of a report on the Karabakh conflict drafted by Terry Davis, the secretary general of the Council of Europe. Rustamian tells the paper that unlike deputy parliament speaker Tigran Torosian he does not play down the document’s significance. The draft report could “greatly affect further discussions of the Karabakh issue” in Strasbourg and Azerbaijan would not hesitate to use that to its benefit, he says.
“Bellicose rhetoric in Azerbaijan is very likely to gain further momentum after this report,” Rustamian says. “If such a report is submitted [to the PACE] in January its implementation will be impossible and it will lead to an escalation of the situation in the region. It will create new obstacles in the negotiation process.”
“Golos Armenii” believes that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s efforts to gain more powers at home after the school massacre in North Ossetia are also having profound implications for the South Caucasus. The paper says Moscow will “show who is the real master of the Caucasus,” putting Russian proposals on Karabakh reportedly discussed by the Armenian and Azerbaijani president last week in that context. The proposals are unacceptable to both parties and the Russians know this very well. They simply want to show that they remain the key player in the region, according to “Golos Armenii.”