“Aravot” says Armenia’s government may have a point when it argues against Turkey’s membership in the European Union, citing Ankara’s refusal to normalize relations with Yerevan and recognize the Armenian genocide. “But in a sense, it is beneficial when a country that has nothing to do with democratic norms is accepted into the ranks of the civilized humanity with some reservations.” The paper brings the example of Armenia’s difficult accession to the Council of Europe. Membership of that organization brought additional pressure on the Armenian government to respect human rights and promote democracy.
“It is very possible that the European Union will force that country (Turkey) to take progressive steps with its fairly strong requirements and standards,” continues “Aravot.” Armenia could thus benefit from the Turkish entry.
But in an interview with “Hayots Ashkhar,” Dashnaktsutyun leader Vahan Hovannisian draws parallels between the EU’s readiness to admit Turkey and the policy of appeasement of Nazi Germany pursued by the Western powers in the 1930s. The World War II would not have happened had Europe been “more resolute,” he says. Hovannisian also speaks out strongly against any Armenian withdrawal from the occupied Azerbaijani territories. “We must now be firm and united because we don’t owe anybody anything,” he says. I don’t understand why we should give up anything.”
“Iravunk” claims that President Robert Kocharian is now beset with serious problems that are not confined to his inability to get Russia to reopen the border with Georgia. The paper predicts a “serious scandal” in connection with reports that the Armenian side is ready to pull out of three of the seven occupied Azerbaijani districts around Nagorno-Karabakh. It says Kocharian’s spokesman has pointedly stopped short of denying those reports.
“Iravunk” also comments on what it sees as a growing rift between the governing Republican Party (HHK) and Dashnaktsutyun. The Republicans favor a softer line on Turkey and many of their views on Armenian foreign policy coincide with those expressed by some close allies of former President Levon Ter-Petrosian. In addition, Prime Minister Andranik Markarian and other HHK leaders maintain close contacts with the most radical opposition party, Hanrapetutyun. Which is why, the paper says, Hanrapetutyun and other opposition parties now seem ready to end their boycott of parliament.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” quotes Ashot Aghababian, an HHK parliamentarian and businessman, as denying reports that he was assaulted by a senior army general, Seyran Saroyan, in a dispute at a Yerevan restaurant on Sunday night. Aghababian says there was a bitter verbal argument between them that ended in a mere “scuffle.” The paper says the row broke out after Saroyan addressed Aghababian in a rude way. “So reports that the differences between Aghababian and Saroyan center on their differing approaches to strategic directions of Armenia’s development are extremely exaggerated,” it concludes derisively. “Especially given that the conflict has been settled and it can be said that nothing threatens Armenia’s internal stability.”