Armenian newspapers carry a statement by the spokesman for President Robert Kocharian saying that Kocharian finds “positive” Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian’s affiliation with the Republican Party (HHK). “An authoritative politician’s membership in the HHK and the consolidation of a number of other politicians and statesmen is a welcome development and may have a positive influence on the Armenian political field that is still far from perfect,” says Victor Soghomonian.
“Aravot” sees a bitter irony in the latest influx of more senior officials and businessmen into the HHK. “A party set up by Soviet-era dissidents has finally come to resemble the Communist Party of the Soviet Union,” says the paper. “If you looked during the HHK congress at the faces of party members you would have trouble telling whether this is a congress of the CPUS, the HHK or [the governing] United Russia. The same portly faces expressing no thoughts, the same corrupt officials devoid of any ideas.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” observers that HHK delegates lacked the kind of self-confidence and swagger that one would expect from members of the country’s most powerful party.
“HHK chairman Andranik Markarian’s mood was clearly not celebratory,” concurs “Aravot.” “Others too were not radiating happiness. Something strange was in the air and some Republicans present at the congress were trying to explain that strangeness through whispers.” The paper says some delegates gloomily drew parallels between the HHK and the former ruling Armenian Pan-National Movement.
“Serzh Sarkisian is doing everything to make sure that the [Prosperous Armenia] party is denied participation in the upcoming parliamentary elections,” writes “Haykakan Zhamanak.” The paper explains that under Armenian law parliamentary elections can be contested only by those parties that were formed at least one year before their conduct. “It means that Gagik Tsarukian’s party can not participate in the elections. Of course it has been stated before that Prosperous Armenia was registered as a party long before Gagik Tsarukian announced his decision to join it. But Serzh Sarkisian could not have been unaware of this nuance.”
“Azg” reports that Prosperous Armenia held a conference on Monday during which Tsarukian issued an implicit threat to those who express “ludicrous opinions” about his party. The paper says Tsarukian’s message boiled down to the following: “Gagik Tsarukian swallows some things because politics is diplomacy. He has until now ignored nonsensical statements made about him but from now on every one will get their response.”
According to “Haykakan Zhamanak,” the Yerevan theater where the gathering took place was guarded by Tsarukian’s bodyguards and surrounded by his expensive cars. The paper says this may have been a “more than adequate riposte” to the HHK congress.
“If Serzh Sarkisian and the HHK fail to take everything and strip Robert Kocharian of levers, then their hasty congress could turn into a premature start that will have a very bad end for both Serzh Sarkisian and the team that has come to the HHK with him,” comments “Iravunk.” The paper says the public regards them as a “consolidating mob.”