“Aravot” reports that the opposition Hanrapetutyun party remains adamant in rejecting President Robert Kocharian’s constitutional amendments despite their endorsement by the United States and the European Union. “We received a popular mandate to restore constitutional order in the country, rather than to carry out constitutional reforms,” a senior member of the party, Artak Zeynalian, tells the paper. “Today our people are alienated from what is happening in Armenia and they don’t care about the fate of the constitutional changes.” Commenting on Western diplomats’ calls for the opposition to support the amendments, he says, “We are deeply convinced that the [Armenian] people do not understand it when the opposition discusses constitutional changes.”
But as deputy parliament speaker Tigran Torosian tells “Hayots Ashkhar,” constitutional reform would lead to a democratization of Armenia’s political system. “We are only left to do one thing: To explain to the public the positive sides of the constitutional draft and positive developments expected as a result of its adoption,” he says. “I am convinced that in the event of correct propaganda our citizens will be more prudent than some politicians and will contribute to the success of the referendum with their positive vote.”
Citing unnamed sources in the Armenian president’s administration, “Iravunk” reports that Robert Kocharian has instructed Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian to coordinate and oversee the conduct of the October local elections. The paper says Sarkisian has been granted “sweeping powers to use all government levers to ensure the victory of their candidates.” It says this only confirms the fact that Sarkisian is Kocharian’s preferred successor.
“Iravunk” also thinks that the apparent political calm in Armenia is “quite deceptive” as there are continuing “intrigues” within the ruling regime. “Different factions are trying to squeeze their people into the middle echelons of security structures,” says the paper. “And it is obvious that that is being done with a view toward the autumn local elections.”
Opposition leader Artashes Geghamian, meanwhile, denies in “Aravot” rumors that he has cut a deal with Sarkisian according to which he will support the latter’s 2008 presidential bid. Geghamian says those who are spreading the rumors want to scare and discredit him. He believes that it is the powerful defense minister who is behind those rumors. “I have no enemies in Armenia. I just have very serious political rivals in Kocharian and Serzh Sarkisian,” continues Geghamian, adding that it is Sarkisian who has “made many, many enemies as a result of his intrigues.”