(Saturday, February 11)
“Aravot” editorializes that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will be possible to resolve only when most people in Armenia and Azerbaijan realize that “there are no mutually incompatible ethnic groups in the world.” The paper cites the example of France and German, once bitter enemies and now close partners. “Each nation should see in the enemy nation the same cultural potential as it sees within itself,” it writes.
But “Haykakan Zhamanak” clearly sees such incompatibility when it claims that a return of Azerbaijani refugees would endanger continued Armenian control over Karabakh. The paper says the fact that it is one of the points of the most recent Karabakh peace plan is the result of Robert Kocharian’s insistence on a package, rather than phased solution to the dispute. The step-by-step peace deal advocated by former President Levon Ter-Petrosian was definitely better for the Armenians, it says, concluding that keeping Karabakh’s population monoethnic is more important that winning international recognition of its secession from Azerbaijan.
“If Russia creates no obstacle, I think the parties will come to an agreement much sooner,” Ararat Zurabian, the chairman of the pro-Ter-Petrosian HHSh party, tells “168 Zham.” “Russia is certainly the obstacle because the conflicts in Karabakh, Abkhazia and South Ossetia benefit only Russia.” Hovannes Hovannisian, another pro-Western oppositionist, makes a similar point, saying that Russian presence in the South Caucasus would be meaningless without the lingering regional conflicts.
“168 Zham” says pro-Russian politicians naturally do not agree with this line of reasoning. One of them, Aram Karapetian of the opposition Nor Zhamanakner party, assures the paper that Russian presence in the region does not hinge on the ethnic conflicts.
“168 Zham” carries a “sensational” report that European football’s governing body, UEFA, has decided to force the Armenian and Azerbaijani national teams to play against each other in Baku and Yerevan in 2007. “This decisions causes surprise,” says the paper, suggesting that the Europeans may be hoping that the Karabakh conflict will indeed be resolved this year.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says Armenia’s three-party governing coalition is seriously worried that its second attempt to install presidential adviser Armen Harutiunian as human rights ombudsman will also fail. The paper says Harutiunian reluctantly agreed to have another shot after demanding “clear guarantees” of his election. “Of course, the coalition could not have given such guarantees,” it says.
According to “Golos Armenii,” not only opposition lawmakers but also representatives of the parliament majority are now “very reserved” about Harutiunian’s chances of clinching the post.
“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” is convinced that Artashes Tumanian, the chief of the Armenian presidential administration, could not have set up his own party without Kocharian’s and Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian’s blessing. The paper says the move was part of the ongoing “reshuffle of pro-government political forces.”