(Saturday, July 8)
“Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” reports that Lieutenant General Seyran Ohanian, the commander of Nagorno-Karabakh’s army, said in Stepanakert on Friday that he is against a return of any Azerbaijani territories before international recognition of Karabakh’s independence. Ohanian argued that those territories serve as a vital “security zone” and must therefore remain under Armenian control until agreement is reached on Karabakh’s status.
“168 Zham” quotes two other senior Karabakh officials, Georgi Petrosian and Ashot Ghulian, as calling for Stepanakert’s renewed direct involvement in Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiations. They say that would restore the “normal format” of the peace talks.
“Azerbaijan declares that it will never come to terms with the fact of Nagorno-Karabakh’s self-determination, while Armenia will not agree to Azerbaijan’s demand to withdraw from occupied territories before a recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh’s right to self-determination,” writes “Hayots Ashkhar.” “Therefore, the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process will accelerate only if Nagorno-Karabakh is recognized as an independent negotiating party.”
According to “Haykakan Zhamanak,” the American, French and Russian mediators would like the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan to meet on the sidelines of this month’s G8 summit in Saint Petersburg. The paper says such a meeting would be the last opportunity to achieve a breakthrough this year. “If Robert Kocharian and Ilham Aliev travel to Saint Petersburg, then the framework agreement [on Karabakh] could be deemed signed,” it says. But the paper is convinced that Aliev and Kocharian will make every effort to avoid meeting each other again.
“168 Zham” claims that the latest statements by the OSCE Minsk Group are not only a “threat addressed to the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan” but an attempt to gauge public opinion in the two warring nations. “Of course there has been no serious public discussion here so far,” says the paper, adding that Armenian political parties remain silent on the issue.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” quotes a senior member of the governing Republican Party (HHK), Gagik Melikian, as denying reports about a massive influx of new members into the HHK. “If we look at the dynamics of accession to the party, we will see that it hasn’t changed much since last year,” says Melikian. Furthermore, he says, about 3,000 members have been expelled from the HHK this year “for various reasons.”
“Aravot,” meanwhile, reports a continuing influx of intellectuals into oligarch Gagik Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia party. The paper says among them are a prominent theater actor, a former rector of the Armenian State Medical University, and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Also affiliated with Prosperous Armenia is Environment Minister Vartan Ayvazian.
“168 Zham” quotes the chairman of the Georgian Automobile Federation, Shalva Obgaidze, as saying that most cars stolen in Georgia are sold in Armenia and Azerbaijan. “In Armenia, in particular, they are legalized by one very famous judge,” he claims, declining to name names.