(Saturday, October 16)
In an interview with “Haykakan Zhamanak,” a former parliamentarian and security official, Gurgen Yeghiazarian, predicts President Robert Kocharian’s impending downfall as a result of what he says will be an Armenian withdrawal from three of the seven occupied Azerbaijani districts. That the Fizuli, Zangelan and Kubatli districts will be returned to Azerbaijan in the near future is a “fait accompli,” according to Yeghiazarian. He claims that Kocharian will try to install a loyal successor in his place before leaving the office.
Yeghiazarian adds that there are three candidates for that role: parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian, Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian and Justice Minister David Harutiunian. “I certainly rule out the theory that Kocharian could all of a sudden hand over to Serzh Sarkisian,” he says. Kocharian, he says, “doesn’t love this country simply because the people Armenia did not elect him.”
Such speculation is brushed aside by “Golos Armenii” as an “exotic gossip.” The paper also defends Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian against the latest attacks on him from the pro-opposition media. It sees an opposition hand in the renewed speculation about government infighting. “Since the opposition has come to terms with the fact that it is unable to justify its existence with concrete actions, its main source of joy is now inner-government differences.”
“Aravot” calls for the passage of a code of ethics for Armenian parliamentarians. That such a code is needed was underscored recently by a bitter spat between independent deputy Hakob Hakobian and several Orinats Yerkir lawmakers, including speaker Baghdasarian. Hakobian responded to embezzlement charges leveled against him by the Baghdasarian-controlled Audit Chamber of the National Assembly by accusing a senior Orinats Yerkir deputy of being a homosexual. “Experience shows that in our country the opposition is behaving in a much more civilized and serious manner than the others,” the paper says, referring to the three coalition parties and other government factions. “Probably because there are almost no criminal elements and neighborhood fellows in the opposition ranks, something which can not be said of the government majority.”
Interviewed by “Hayots Ashkhar,” Andranik Migranian, a prominent Moscow-based pundit, makes a case for Armenia’s participation in the U.S.-led “coalition of the willing” in Iraq. Migranian says political benefits which Yerevan will draw from the deployment outweigh security risks facing the Armenia Diaspora in Iraq. Migranian says he is convinced that the Armenian government informed Russia, its principal ally, before deciding to send troops to Iraq. He doesn’t think that Moscow voiced “serious objections.”