(Saturday, November 20)
“Hayots Ashkhar” rounds on opposition leaders that have blamed perceived Armenian setbacks in the Nagorno-Karabakh negotiating process on President Robert Kocharian. The paper says that unlike “forces concerned about the statehood and the fate of the nation,” they are rubbing their hands in anticipation of political dividends to be drawn from international pressure on official Yerevan. Their aim is “to get rid of both the authorities and Karabakh.” The opposition is not suggesting viable policy alternatives, seeking instead to fulfill their government ambitions.
In a front-page story, “Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that former President Levon Ter-Petrosian met on Friday with U.S. President George W. Bush and his predecessors Bill Clinton, George Bush Senior and Jimmy Carter during the opening in Arkansas of a think-tank sponsored by Clinton. Ter-Petrosian, who was invited by Clinton the attend the opening ceremony, also spoke with Romano Prodi, the outgoing president of the European Commission.
“For us Karabakh is such an issue that if in order to resolve it we must change a president once a year, we must change,” Hovannes Hovannisian, the former head of the Armenian parliamentary delegation in Strasbourg, tells “Haykakan Zhamanak.” Hovannisian, who is now in opposition to Kocharian, says the Karabakh talks have reached a point where the Armenian side needs a “time-out.” “That can be achieved only through a change of president,” he claims. Hovannisian also predicts the creation of a new broad-based opposition alliance in Armenia by the end of this year.
Another, more prominent opposition leader, Artashes Geghamian, attributes the recent events on the Karabakh front to Kocharian’s “illegitimacy.” Interviewed by “Aravot,” he warns of “very bitter and poisonous” consequences for the “entire Armenian people.”
“Everything is presented as an achievement in Armenia,” grumbles “Aravot.” “For example, the participation of our athletes at [the Olympic Games] in Athens is an achievement for the Armenian Olympic Committee. The handover of the Dalma Gardens to the rich is a serious achievement in the fight against corruption. On the external front too … our officials periodically register achievements. But political and public forces are not suggesting effective ways of countering those ‘achievements’.” The paper says public debate on this problem is not a panacea because it can not be a substitute for an honest government elected and financed by taxpayers.
Aram Karapetian, a maverick oppositionist, comments in “Hayots Ashkhar” on the latest talk of a Karabakh-related international pressure on the Armenian side that could spark regime change in Yerevan as early as next spring. “It is clear that a [Karabakh] solution will be imposed,” Karapetian says. “We too must understand that regional developments require a solution to the problem.” Karapetian also attacks the mainstream opposition for its insistence on “the restoration of constitutional order.” “I, for example, don’t think that constitutional order was breached,” he says. “How was it breached? By the fact that our president is not legitimate? I’m saying that our president is legitimate but is not running the country well.”