(Saturday, December 24)
“The opposition will not rally around one common candidate during the [next] presidential election,” Garnik Isagulian, President Robert Kocharian’s national security aide, predicts in an interview with “Hayots Ashkhar.” “The ambitions of all opposition leaders are very big. There may be different figures in the government camp as well. But in my view the main candidate must be someone who has dealt with the Karabakh issue throughout his career and has a serious experience in political and state activities.” That person, according to Isagulian, is Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian.
“168 Zham” reports that parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian held a confidential meeting with former Karabakh army commander Samvel Babayan several days ago. The paper says they “exchanged views on the existing political situation in the country.” “Artur Baghdasarian, according to our parliament source, offered to establish cooperation between their parties.”
Citing other “well-informed sources,” “168 Zham” says tobacco tycoon Hrant Vartanian has asked the governing Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) to include him on its list of candidates in the next parliamentary election. The paper says Vartanian, who was elected to the current parliament on the Dashnaktsutyun ticket, was rebuffed at the behest of the HHK leader, Prime Minister Andranik Markarian.
“Azg” reports that the Prosperous Armenia Party set up by another “oligarch,” Gagik Tsarukian, will mainly comprise “authoritative individuals respected by the people,” rather than government officials and wealthy businessmen. “If it manages to play a serious role in the National Assembly as a result of the 2007 parliamentary elections, that will predetermine the results of the presidential elections to be held in 2008 and the political developments that will take place in Armenia from 2007-2010,” says the paper.
“The [governing] coalition resembles a marriage where the parties go home at night but spend the rest of the day engaging in the holy business of cheating on each other,” writes “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun.” The paper says the three parties aligned in the coalition will continue to do so until the 2007 polls. “Of all the coalition parties Dashnaktsutyun is the most difficult situation because it is old, 115 years old, and has no masters anymore.” Its hitherto main “patron,” Robert Kocharian, “has fallen in love with Gagik Tsarukian’s extremely young, even unborn party and can no longer be bothered to work with the century-old one,” claims the paper.