“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that the opposition Artarutyun bloc and the National Unity Party have decided to end their prolonged boycott of parliament sessions. The paper quotes an unnamed opposition deputy as saying that by attending parliament sessions the opposition minority will try to create “complete turmoil” in the National Assembly.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” also believes that the decision by Albert Bazeyan and Vagharshak Harutiunian to leave the opposition Hanrapetutyun party was directed against its leader Aram Sarkisian rather than the opposition as a whole. The paper says the move complicates Sarkisian’s perceived efforts to become “the top leader of the opposition.” It says Bazeyan and Harutiunian may now join Stepan Demirchian’s People’s Party of Armenia.
“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” says talk of a serious split within Hanrapetutyun is grossly exaggerated and the scandalous resignations will not stop the radical opposition party from continuing its preparations for “resolute actions.” The paper says Sarkisian and his associates are ready to “go to the end.”
“The collapse of the constitutional referendum means the collapse of the regime,” one of those associates, Suren Sureniants, tells “Iravunk.”
“What happened in the parliament was simply disgraceful,” Vartan Poghosian, an opposition-linked constitutional law expert, tells “Hayots Ashkhar.” Poghosian thinks that the parliament debates did not help Armenians better understand the essence of constitutional reform sought by the Armenian authorities. “The constitution is not the kind of document that should have been a subject of the government-opposition debate,” he says.
“The [proposed] constitutional changes do not give Robert Kocharian any grounds to run for president for a third time,” continues Poghosian. “There is no legal confusion or ambiguous situation here.”
But as a senior member of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), Armen Rustamian, tells “Hayots Ashkhar,” the Armenian authorities can claim the moral high ground in the constitutional debate because their position is backed by Europe and the United States. That is why, he says, the opposition is “casting doubt on the moral authority” of the Council of Europe. “This is nothing but political short-sightedness or simple demagoguery,” adds Rustamian.
“The November referendum could become a serious test for the Armenian authorities,” comments “Azg.” “The European structures and the United States welcome the content of their constitutional package but at the same time warn that the November referendum must be free, fair and transparent.” The paper believes that the authorities will find it difficult to secure at least 800,000 votes needed for the passage of the amendments given the extent of their popularity and legitimacy.
As if to substantiate this assertion, prominent Armenian writer Perj Zeytuntsian voices serious misgivings about the constitutional reform in an interview with “Hayots Ashkhar.” “It may seem very strange, but I will say that the issue of constitutional changes, both the old and revised ones, doesn’t interest me,” says Zeytuntsian. “For I think that the first page of the existing constitution says that Armenia is a social state. And it is also written a few lines below that power belongs to the people.” Zeytuntsian calls these two provisions “the greatest lies.”