“Many things have changed during all these years,” “Zhamanak Yerevan” comments on the 15th anniversary of Armenia’s independence. “Armenia has joined the Council of Europe, is taking steps to integrate itself into the international community, participating in various NATO and European Union programs. But why doesn’t all of this instill faith in the average Armenian? Why doesn’t he feel more protected today? The Armenian has grown convinced that the efforts at European integration have nothing to do with the government’s mentality, espoused values and policy.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says the show of Armenia’s military power during Wednesday’s Yerevan parade was designed not so much for Armenians as foreign officials who “might share their impressions with Azerbaijani and Turkish diplomats.” “The authorities got this message across,” says the paper. “The numerous foreigners having their pictures taken against the backdrop of military hardware that was left off the parade testified to that. Did our authorities do the right thing by organizing such a display?” Their decision was “logical” but not necessarily justified, concludes the paper.
Citing unnamed government sources, “Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that President Robert Kocharian has encouraged members of the ruling elite to vie for the status of “the candidate of power” for the 2008 presidential election. “This proposal buoyed some representatives of the regime but irked others,” claims the paper. “In effect, Kocharian is not preparing hand over power to Serzh Sarkisian, and is offering him instead to wage an equal struggle for that place with others. Which means that Kocharian could eventually pick a totally different candidate.”
“Zhamanak Yerevan” expects to have a sense of déjà vu during the 2007 parliamentary elections. “The opposition will promise regime change, while the government will falsify the elections,” it says. But Hovannes Hovannisian, an opposition leader, disagrees, claiming that “the world will no longer tolerate a reproduction of such a regime.” “The leaders of the regime, who have declared a total mobilization, are well aware of that,” he says. “This was not the case in 2003.”
“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” says the criminal investigation into the September 6 assassination of senior tax official Shahen Hovasapian has run into “deadlock.” The paper says prosecutors investigating the crime lack sufficient evidence to substantiate their charges leveled against two arrested brothers suspected of masterminding the killing. There are already suggestions that the prosecutors will set them free soon.