“Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” quotes Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian as dismissing “security guarantees” offered by Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliev to the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. “Does he have any jurisdiction over Nagorno-Karabakh to give such guarantees?” Sarkisian told reporters on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Sarkisian’s younger brother Levon, who works at the Armenian Foreign Ministry, tells “Iravunk” that he would love to see the defense minister succeed Robert Kocharian as president of Armenia. “To that end, I will do everything in my power,” he says. Levon Sarkisian dismisses speculation that Kocharian is jealous about his brother’s presidential ambitions. “I think it doesn’t matter to Robert Kocharian who will become president,” he says. “Such rumors are aimed at casting shadow over Robert Kocharian. After all, continuity of power is also at the heart of a country’s strength.”
“Many, many people have suffered from my brother’s principled position,” continues Levon Sarkisian. “The vast majority of opposition leaders are [former] senior officials who lost their posts. Isn’t it natural for them to have a sense of envy and revenge with regard to my brother who has been holding a certain position for 17 years.” The diplomat also claims that rumors about his second brother Aleksandr’s extensive business interests abroad are grossly exaggerated. He says the latter has only “begun construction of one residential building in the USA.”
“Iravunk” reports that Kocharian is to begin a rare visit to Washington on March 27 at the invitation of Ambassador John Danilovich, head of the U.S. government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). In all likelihood, says the paper, Kocharian may meet with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and even President George W. Bush as well. “It is evident that both Moscow and Washington are showing a great desire to see the Armenian president and consult with him on the Karabakh issue,” it says.
Deputy Foreign Minister Gegham Gharibjanian tells “Hayots Ashkhar” that Armenia will eventually serve as a transit route for exports of Iranian natural gas. “The search for markets will continue and further developments will determine ways in which Iran will find those markets,” he says.
“Aravot” predicts that Armenia’s main opposition groups will garner the majority of votes in next year’s parliamentary election but will get no more than 15 percent of parliament seats as a result. “The main struggle will unfold over the remaining 85 percent. The players in that struggle will be the parties of senior officials and big oligarchs (the HHK and Prosperous Armenia), the party of mid-level bureaucracy (Nor Yerkir) … the parties of pro-government nationalists (Dashnaktsutyun, Dashink), and the parties of pro-government liberals (Orinats Yerkir, MAK).” The paper says it is “theoretically” possible for these parties to peacefully distribute the parliament seats amongst themselves.