“Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” carries an Armenpress interview with Washington’s chief Karabakh negotiator, Steven Mann, in which he makes a case for a quick settlement of the Armenian-Azerbaijani dispute. Mann warns that failure to make further progress in peace talks is fraught with “serious dangers.” He believes that the signing of a framework peace deal this year is “not only possible but necessary.”
Karabakh is also a major theme of Armenpress’s separate interview, also published by “Hayastani Hanrapetutyun,” with the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Javier Solana. “The regional conflicts do not allow for the development of democracy in the South Caucasus countries,” Solana is quoted as saying. “They are also thwarting regional cooperation. The regional conflicts must be resolved and that is the obligation of those countries.” The European Union is ready to help them do that, Solana adds.
“168 Zhamanak” challenges the integrity of senior state officials in a bid to prove that the Armenian authorities’ repeated pledges to combat corruption are just a gimmick. The paper says that many of them, including customs chief Armen Avetisian and Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian, own luxury cars whose prices sharply contrast with their modest salaries.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reveals that tycoon Gagik Tsarukian has sold his shares in one of Armenia’s two main breweries. The information is confirmed by a top executive of Tsarukian’s holding company, Multi Group. Sedrak Arustamian says the businessman sold his 29 percent stake in the Kotayk brewery to French beer magnate Pierre Castel for about $4 million. The latter will now own 100 percent of Kotayk. The paper notes that as recently as late last year Castel’s eponymous group announced its intention to sell its Kotayk shares. It claims that the French investor will press ahead with those plans despite the deal cut with Tsarukian. “Castel representatives are negotiating with some foreign companies.”
“According to our information, Prime Minister Andranik Markarian and businessman-deputy Gagik Tsarukian met recently and discussed the possibility of jointly contesting [next year’s] parliamentary elections,” reports “Aravot.” “They even agreed on the name of the person who will top their joint electoral slate. Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian is said to be that person.” The report, however, is denied by Tigran Torosian, the deputy parliament speaker and a senior member of Markarian’s Republican Party (HHK). “No party has drawn up its slates yet,” says Torosian.
Interviewed by “Aravot,” opposition leader Aram Sarkisian says he still believes that there will be pre-term parliamentary and presidential elections in Armenia this year. “In this regard, I am convinced that the opposition camp will definitely act in a united fashion,” he says. “I am convinced of that because the entire people are in opposition [to the ruling regime] and everyone has such an expectation.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that the Nor Yerkir party that was nearly formed by the former chief of Kocharian’s staff, Artashes Tumanian, has shut down its offices rented in downtown Yerevan. The paper says the owner of the premises is already looking for a new tenant and hoping that be an international organization with “no problems with the Armenian authorities.”