“The political and economic situation in Armenia and Azerbaijan is such that the leaders of the two countries can not accept mutual concessions,” the former commander of the Karabakh army, Samvel Babayan, tells “Aravot.” Babayan believes that a Karabakh settlement is important for economic development in the region. “The sooner, the better for us,” he says. “I think that Azerbaijan is preparing to take steps in the military direction. They constantly try to improve their military positions and are accumulating artillery and other hardware.”
Another prominent Karabakh general, Vitali Balasanian, confirms in a “Haykakan Zhamanak” interview reports that two rival Karabakh groups uniting veterans of the war with Azerbaijan are about to merge. Balasanian’s group was set up in February 2000 as a counterweight to a veterans union loyal to Babayan. Balasanian was recently dismissed as deputy defense minister of Karabakh under uncertain circumstances. Balasanian too sees increased tension along the Armenian-Azerbaijani line of contact. “There is talk that the war can resume at any moment,” he says.
The general further admits his intention to contest parliamentary elections to be held in Karabakh this summer. However, he is against Babayan’s return to active politics. “If I were Samvel Babayan I wouldn’t meddle in any political processes,” he says. “He has serious health problems. Let him restore his health and sort out family issues.”
“Aravot” quotes opposition leader Aram Sarkisian as saying that the greatest danger to Karabakh would come from a democratic revolution in Azerbaijan which could be sparked by parliamentary elections this fall. But Sarkisian says he is convinced that regime change in Armenia will happen earlier. “Armenia has become an unpredictable country. In our country such processes could gain momentum within 2-10 days. You just need a minor pretext.”
Another prominent oppositionist, Ashot Manucharian, makes a similar forecast in an interview with “Iravunk.” Manucharian argues that the former authorities in Ukraine were much more powerful and wealthier than their counterparts in Armenia.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that the Armenian opposition plans to resume its anti-government campaign on April 2. The paper says the opposition will mark on April 13 the first anniversary of the violent break-up of a major street protest in Yerevan by picketing the presidential palace, the parliament building and the Prosecutor-General’s Office.