(Saturday, April 2)
“Aravot” links President Robert Kocharian’s unexpected visit to Georgia with unrest in Javakheti over the closure of the Russian military base stationed in the Armenian-populated area.
“Azg” takes a similar view, saying that Yerevan must do everything to prevent the Javakheti Armenians from becoming “a tool in Moscow’s hands.” “The Armenian-Georgian relationship is invaluable for Yerevan,” says the paper. “In that sense, President Kocharian went to Georgia at the right time.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” sees a connection between Kocharian’s talks with Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili and U.S. President George W. Bush’s visit to Georgia expected in May. “There are reports that Saakashvili invited Kocharian at the request of the American side,” says the paper. “Nothing worries now Robert Kocharian more than forecasts that the next democratic revolution [in the former Soviet Union] will take place in Armenia,” it claims in a separate comment.
In an interview with “Aravot,” Minister for Local Government Hovik Abrahamian seeks to downplay chronic election irregularities in Armenia, saying that they are commonplace in Europe as well. “You can not find any European country where there have been no illegalities of shortcomings during elections,” Abrahamian says. He insists that falsifications reported during the presidential and parliamentary elections of 2003 did not affect their outcome. He says Kocharian has instructed government officials to make sure that the October local elections are just as “free and fair.”
“Today the government is doing well and the people really feel that,” Abrahamian continues. But he at the same time notes equivocally, “A people that fails to see even an insignificant good thing done for it, has not future.”
“Today’s situation doesn’t satisfy us, but it is one step farther than what we had yesterday,” a leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), Hrant Markarian, tells “Haykakan Zhamanak.” “I feely sorry for our people. They are being told that they live in the most lawless, the most corrupt country. Why do we wonder why the people are emigrating after that?”
Markarian is also asked about Dashnaktsutyun’s uneasy relations with its coalition partners. “The coalition doesn’t satisfy me and leaving or not leaving the coalition is always on our agenda,” he replies. “But what is happening within the coalition is the result of attitudes, characters … rather than serious disagreements.”