“Hayots Ashkhar” sees renewed war mongering in Azerbaijan which it says is aimed at blackmailing the Armenian side into making more concessions on Nagorno-Karabakh. “If no radical changes take place in the region by the end of the year, Azerbaijan will content itself with the current military-political blackmail,” writes the paper. It also calls on the Armenian government to “somehow refresh its strategy” of countering Azerbaijani threats and resolving the Karabakh conflict.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” is worried about Armenian officials’ “serenity” ahead of an OSCE delegation’s upcoming fact-finding trip to Armenian-controlled territories around Karabakh. The paper says the trip is part of a well-calculated Azerbaijani plan to present the Armenians in the negative light in the international arena. “If certain concessions on the Karabakh issue become inevitable, Robert Kocharian will be able to avoid a political demise only by winning the support of a large part of the public,” it speculates.
“Iravunk” notes in this regard that Kocharian’s recent criticism of the tax authorities was aimed at shoring up his popularity. “Kocharian needs to keep the question of his successor under his personal control. He must therefore had something with which he could resist his entourage,” says the paper. “It appears that he is worried about the fact that the bureaucratic and oligarchic support bases are no longer under his full control.” The paper also makes the point that Kocharian’s regime is “largely acceptable to the West” especially now that it is sending troops to Iraq.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that Albert Bazeyan, chairman of the opposition Hanrapetutyun (Republic) party, has again offered to resign. “Apparently I have failed to fit into the boundaries of the party’s governing board during this period,” he says vaguely. “We set particular goals, formulated an agenda and gave the public promises most of which have not been fulfilled. I believe that I am primarily responsible for that. There is a certain stagnation in the party and today there is a need for some change.”
But “Haykakan Zhamanak” attributes Bazeyan’s resignation to a change in the party line advocated by Hanrapetutyun’s de facto leader, Aram Sarkisian, and his associates. “It is obvious that the Hanrapetutyun party will drastically change course soon,” comments the paper. “During the March 4 congress it will announce its departure from the Artarutyun bloc and the creation of a new opposition format that will operate in the right-wing liberal field.”