“The key to a Karabakh settlement is direct negotiations between Stepanakert and Baku, and it is Stepanakert that can bear responsibility for the issue of controlled territories and return of refugees,” the foreign minister of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, Arman Melikian, tells “Azg.” Melikian says no peace deal can be implemented without the participation and consent of the Karabakh Armenians. There are still no “visible results” in the search for peace, he adds.
Meanwhile, “Hayots Ashkhar” reports that a senior member of the governing Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) has rejected the idea of a future referendum of independence in Karabakh which is reportedly discussed by the conflicting parties. “That can have very undesirable consequences because in 10-15 years Azerbaijan would first try resettle more people than lived there at the start of the conflict and then try to solve the issue in its favor in that referendum at the expense of its faster population growth,” says Samvel Nikoyan. He says the referendum must be held within a year from the settlement so that “the issue of status is solved once and for all.”
That “some sort of an agreement is being prepared” by the mediators and the conflicting parties is obvious to “168 Zham.” “It is also evident that that settlement will be a phased one however much the authorities call it phased-package,” comments the paper. “In 1998 Robert Kocharian came to power with a pledge to solve the Karabakh problem with a package deal … This hasn’t worked. As a result, Armenia has lost seven years, been left out of all regional political and economic programs and now has to agree to a variant that was offered in 1997. Of course, on worse terms and with more uncertain prospects. Robert Kocharian must not do everything to avoid such an agreement.”
“The problem must certainly be solved with mutual concessions if we are to achieve peace,” parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian tells “168 Zham.” “But those concessions must not come at the expense of the security and national dignity of our people.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that Artarutyun deputy Shavarsh Kocharian was on Wednesday holding intensive consultations with representatives of the governing coalition over opposition demands regarding constitutional reform. “As a result of discussions, the coalition asked Shavarsh Kocharian to tell the opposition that they can take part in the August 29 extraordinary session [of parliament] and express and substantiate all of their proposals right from the National Assembly podium.” The paper believes that most of the nine opposition parties aligned in Artarutyun may agree to do that.
In an interview with “Aravot,” Minister for Local Government Hovik Abrahamian makes a case for an indirect election of Yerevan’s mayor by a future municipal council. Abrahamian says the opposition can control the mayor’s office simply by winning a majority of seats in that council. “This is a very good option,” he says.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” notes the fact that opposition leader Artashes Geghamian’s speeches were published in the government daily “Hayastani Hanrapetutyun.” “According to one opposition representatives, that newspaper would never publish a speech by an oppositionist without a special order issued from the presidential administration,” writes the paper. “This gave some opposition figures reason to conclude that Geghamian is the candidate who will become Yerevan mayor after the passage of the coalition’s new constitution.”