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Press Review


"Haykakan Zhamanak" highlights the differences between the approaches of the country's president and top legislator to the constitutional amendment
regarding Yerevan's mayor. Comparing the meetings of Venice Commission representatives with Robert Kocharian and Artur Baghdasarian, the paper writes that while the parliament speaker thinks it right that the mayor of Yerevan should be elected rather than appointed, President Kocharian suggests withdrawing this provision from the Constitution altogether and leaving it to be regulated by law.

Baghdasarian makes it clear that if the Constitution fails to guarantee a
clear separation of powers, then "we cannot talk about real democratic
reforms" and that "the forces supporting a push for democracy must be
consistent in their efforts not to allow excessive powers to be accumulated
within any branch of power."

Kocharian, however, takes a totally different approach, the paper said. It quotes a Venice Commission expert as saying: "Speaking about the balance and
separation between the branches of power, the president said that 'people in
the South Caucasus countries need strong leaders.'"

"Haykakan Zhamanak" also presents the opinions of Artur Baghdasarian and opposition Hanrapetutyun party leader and former Prime Minister Aram Sarkisian about each other. Sarkisian calls the Parliament speaker "the only democratic force within the power pyramid." Asked about the possibility of the opposition rallying around the figure of Baghdasarian, Sarkisian said that this would depend on the Parliament speaker himself.

For his part, Baghdasarian said he is flattered by Aram Sarkisian's assessment of him.

In an interview with "Haykakan Zhamanak," Baghdasarian acknowledges the need
for reforms in Armenia, saying that "revolutions, after all, are carried
out with the motivation of conducting such reforms." "I understand those who speak about revolutions in Armenia. They do not believe in the possibility of carrying out successful reforms," he continued. Saying that every revolution means regress and shocks, Baghdasarian argues: "We must go the way of deeper reforms, rather than revolutions."

"Hayots Ashkharh" writes that the radicals' calls for a revolution only
highlight their organizational inability.

"All citizens of post-Soviet countries want to have democracy, freedom,
fair elections, want to get rid as soon as possible of corrupt officials and oligarchs who grow richer under their patronage," writes "Aravot,"
concluding that the Rose and Orange revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine have failed to solve this problem and that the experience of failed democratic revolutions works to the benefit of authoritarian regimes.

"The Armenians, who experienced their first velvet revolution 15 years ago,
had too many of its fruits to digest. Having this experience, our cautious and conservative people approach any drastic change with caution and now having this specter before their eyes, they will altogether give up the thought of changing anything in their country," writes the paper's analyst.

More than two dozen Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) deputies have submitted a request to that organization's leadership to discuss the course of constitutional reforms in Armenia as an urgent topic at a plenary session in July, opposition parliament deputy Shavarsh Kocharian tells "Haykakan Zhamanak." Pro-government members of Armenia's delegation to the PACE have accused Shavarsh Kocharian of instigating that petition, but he has denied any responsibility for it.

(Hrach Melkumian)
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