“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” reports that Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian held a meeting on Saturday with a large number of pro-government politicians and senior officials from the central and local governments. “Those present at the meeting decided that it is Serzh Sarkisian who will be Armenia’s next president and gave him oaths of allegiance,” says the paper. “Particularly active were provincial governors and mayors that promised to carry out any order of the boss.”
“Zhamanak Yerevan” is concerned about Sarkisian’s apparent presidential ambitions and urges the public to “avert yet another coup d’etat.”
“It is evident that Serzh Sarkisian wants to become president,” opposition leader Vazgen Manukian tells “Haykakan Zhamanak.” “While it was beneficial for Kocharian to have two or three relatively equal parties, Sarkisian seems to have cut a deal [only] with the Republican Party, and, as Vazgen Sarkisian had once done, Serzh is now using the HHK’s clout.” Manukian says that 70 percent of Armenians dislike all pro-government forces and that the challenge for the Armenian opposition is to figure out “how that discontent can be utilized.” “Otherwise, if their scenarios are allowed to materialize, they [the authorities] will divide everything amongst themselves,” he says.
In a separate interview with “Iravunk,” Manukian comments on the latest developments in the Karabakh peace process. “As long as Karabakh’s status is not determined, negotiations will be fruitless,” he says. “I would even urge the West to call a moratorium, for at least five years, on the situation and spend that time on establishing democracy in Azerbaijan and Armenia so that they become countries where human rights are respected, poverty is combated and industry is supported.” This would make mutual compromise much easier, according to Manukian.
Another opposition leader, Aram Sarkisian, tells “Aravot” that the ruling regimes in Azerbaijan and Armenia are unable to embrace painful compromises because they lack domestic legitimacy. “We don’t think that these authorities will go for a solution,” he says. “The authorities in both countries would love to freeze the conflict. That stems from their personal and political interests.”
Hmayak Hovannisian, a maverick parliamentarian, suggests in a “Hayots Ashkhar” interview that the decision by international mediators to disclose their Karabakh proposals reflects their discontent with both Baku and Yerevan. “They probably decided to provoke public discussions in this way,” he says.
“The best way to avoid war is Kocharian’s resignation and manifestation of new approaches in the negotiating process,” “Taregir” quotes former Foreign Minister Aleksandr Arzumanian as saying.