In an interview with “Aravot,” parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian reiterates his threats to pull his Orinats Yerkir Party out of Armenia’s governing coalition. Orinats Yerkir does not want to “create difficulties” for President Robert Kocharian and its coalition allies, he says. “If there arises an incompatibility between our ideas and postures, Orinats Yerkir will leave the coalition,” he says. Baghdasarian also claims that there was “nothing new” in his recent calls for Armenia’s accession to NATO. Membership in the U.S.-led alliance would be a logical result of the Armenian authorities’ stated efforts at “European integration,” he says.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says the Armenian opposition has voiced support for Baghdasarian, taking both the parliament speaker and estranged coalition allies by surprise. The paper claims that Kocharian will hit back soon by telling wealthy members of Orinats Yerkir’s parliamentary faction to defect from Baghdasarian’s party.
Deputy speaker Vahan Hovannisian, meanwhile, tells “Hayots Ashkhar” that Baghdasarian should have raised his NATO-related views with Armenia’s Security Council (of which he is a member), instead of making them public. “For our national security doctrine is decided at that body and under our constitution the president of the republic is the one who is supposed to express it,” argues Hovannisian.
“Azg” quotes another parliament majority leader, Galust Sahakian, as saying that Baghdasarian set a negative precedent which “must not be repeated.”
“Aravot” carries U.S. Ambassador John Evans’s written message to Armenian journalists in connection with World Press Freedom Day. Evans says free and independent media are essential for democratic reform in Armenia. He notes in particular that Armenian television stations must provide a balanced and impartial coverage of political developments “without fearing consequences.”
“Azg” expresses hope that Armenian media outlets will eventually become self-sufficient businesses and will no longer “succumb to pressure from the state machine, the rich and others.” Armenian citizens, says the paper, deserve to at last receive truthful information about the state of affairs in their country.
According to “Hayots Ashkhar,” critical reports on the state of the Armenia which are released by Freedom House and other Western organizations “have little in common with reality.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” cites unnamed “well-informed sources” as saying that Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian has persuaded Kocharian to back down on his plans to ban prosecutors from conducting pre-trial criminal investigations. The paper says the idea was floated by an ad hoc government commission which is working on a reform of Armenia’s judicial and law-enforcement systems. The commission is headed by Justice Minister David Harutiunian.