(Saturday, November 5)
“Haykakan Zhamanak” editorializes that the constitutional amendments put to a referendum are unacceptable not so much because they were put forward by President Robert Kocharian as because of their content. The paper says that the changes, if adopted, will throw Armenia’s leadership into turmoil by creating two power centers within the executive branch. On the one side, says the paper, would be a stronger prime minister controlling the parliament and regional administrations. He would inevitably be pitted against the president of the republic who would continue to control the security agencies, military and foreign affairs. The paper claims that serious differences between the two camps could lead to the kind of turmoil and bloodshed that took place in Russia in 1993.
“It is clear that the radical opposition acts in accordance with this principle: he who is not with us is against,” a senior lawmaker from the governing Republican Party, Gagik Melikian, tells “Hayots Ashkhar.” Melikian complains that the opposition is simply exploiting constitutional reform for its parochial interests. “Whether or not the constitutional changes will be adopted is not important for the radical opposition in this context,” he says. “But I don’t think that they will be successful with such tactics.”
In a separate story, “Hayots Ashkhar” reports that Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian defended one of the amendments that would allow the president to change Armenia’s borders with the parliament’s consent. Meeting with university students on Friday, Oskanian said opposition claims that Kocharian is preparing to cede Armenian territory as part of a Karabakh settlement are “nonsense.” “In reality, we are facing no such danger,” he said.
“Nobody will punish us if we say ‘no’ to the constitutional changes on November 27,” Oskanian is quoted by “Haykakan Zhamanak” as saying. “But before doing that let us think when we would have such opportunity next time.”
According to “Aravot,” Oskanian also made a “shocking revelation” when he made the following remark: “I must say frankly, even if I hurt somebody, that our courts are not independent at present.”
“Azg” reports that the leadership of the Armenian Apostolic Church has fired the director of an Armenian seminary Calcutta, Sonia John, after years of fruitless attempts. “The ouster of this iron lady who has woven a firm clan network in the spiritual world should be considered a major event,” comments the paper.