(Saturday, September 2)
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says the latest deadlock in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process is the result of a toughening of Azerbaijan’s position which it says only bears out former President Levon Ter-Petrosian’s argument that time works against the Armenian side. The paper says the current Armenian leadership rejected a 1997 peace plan favored by Ter-Petrosian as “defeatist” but has failed to negotiate a more pro-Armenian solution to the conflict.
“Hayots Ashkhar” accuses Azerbaijan of stalling for time. “It is evident that however strong will the pressure currently exerted on Azerbaijani side be, the tactic of foot-dragging and false threats adopted by Azerbaijan may last until the presidential elections of 2008,” writes the paper. “Ilham Aliev will try until that time to resist pressure exerted on him … But in 2008, after again becoming president of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliev will after all have to make difficult decisions.”
Armenian newspapers also comment on the governing Republican Party’s surprise decision not to endorse its senior member Arman Sahakian’s bid to become the mayor of Yerevan’s Ajapnyak district, which is currently run by a close associate of Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian. “Aravot” cites rumors that the move resulted from a secret deal cut by Hovsepian and Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian. The two men are said to have agreed to leave Ajapnyak under Hovsepian’s control.
“The HHK is dead, long live [Serzh] Azatovich!” reads a headline in “Haykakan Zhamanak.” The paper reports that virtually none of the 60 or so members of the HHK’s ruling board dared to challenge Sarkisian on the issue during a late-night meeting on Thursday. It says Sahakian’s father Galust and other prominent Republicans looked “humiliated and offended” as they talked to journalists on Friday. “But they lacked the courage to complain about Serzh Azatovich in the presence of journalists.” Still, some of them did “whisper” privately that they “don’t give a damn about the decision made by the HHK council” and will be assisting Arman Sahakian in his election campaign.
“This decision of the HHK board exposed a simple reality: that party, especially after its July 22 congress, does not have an ideological base anymore and is anchored to solely personal relationships and interests,” says “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun.” The paper recalls that as recently as in March 2000 the HHK demanded Sarkisian’s resignation, accusing him of obstructing the official investigation into the October 1999 killings in the Armenian parliament.