“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that President Robert Kocharian lashed out at the leaders of his governing coalition at a meeting late on Wednesday. The paper says Kocharian rejected their assurances that the parliament’s failure last week to elect his loyalist Armen Harutiunian as human rights ombudsman was accidental and ordered them to “come to their senses.” He also warned that if Harutiunian again fails to get elected this week the coalition “will have serious problems.”
According to “Aravot,” Kocharian demanded that the Republican and Orinats Yerkir parties explain why some of their deputies signed a petition that enabled opposition candidate Ruben Torosian to contest the parliament vote. The paper says he also reprimanded Dashnaktsutyun for not ruling out the possibility of ceding the post of ombudsman to the opposition.
“The regime will not cut a deal with the opposition and the candidate who has already been chosen at the presidential administration will pass,” opposition leader Aram Sarkisian tells “Aravot.” “There is no question about it.” Sarkisian also blames Kocharian and his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliev for the collapse of their talks at Rambouillet, saying that both men lack the legitimacy and popularity to resolve the Karabakh conflict. “They both are strangling democracy in their countries,” he says. “And they are already quite well-off. The unresolved Karabakh conflict does not prevent them from skiing. It’s ordinary people who need a quick solution to that problem so that there is real economic progress and normal relations with neighbors.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” draws parallels between the Rambouillet summit and the Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks of March-April 2001 which nearly produced a breakthrough. “It is obvious that Rambouillet exposed Azerbaijan’s disagreement with the idea of holding a referendum of self-determination in Karabakh, one of the key points of the mediators’ peace proposals,” says the paper. It says this only strengthened Armenia’s negotiating position.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” speculates that the Karabakh conflict is increasingly turning into a dispute between the United States and Iran. “That poses a deadly danger to Armenia,” it says.
“Azg” reports that the head of the United Nations office in Yerevan, Consuelo Vidal, has “frozen some of the programs” implemented by her staff. “Employees believe that Ms. Vidal made the surprise decision after Armenian President Robert Kocharian’s December 2005 visit to the Yerevan office of the UN,” says the paper. It says Kocharian “expressed his discontent with the content of UN reports [on Armenia] that differ from his government’s views.” Kocharian also criticized local independent experts contracted by the UN. Two of the programs suspended by Vidal dealt with human rights and the fight against corruption. “According to our information, the Armenian president was particularly unhappy with the anti-corruption program,” concludes “Azg.”