“Hayots Ashkhar” discusses the controversy surrounding the upcoming debate in the French parliament on a bill that would criminalize public denial of the Armenian genocide. The paper says the French government is using the extremely sensitive issue to “ascertain Turkey’s conformity with the European value system.”
“Azg” reports that the spiritual leader of Turkey’s small Armenian community, Patriarch Mesrob, has joined official Ankara in urging France not to pass the bill. “One must be guided by initiatives fostering dialogue and mutual understanding,” he is quoted as saying in an open letter to the French government. “No undertaking serving this purpose can be acceptable to us,” he says, adding that the bill would restrict freedom of expression and deal a blow to efforts at Turkish-Armenian reconciliation.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” comments that the arrest and likely prosecution of parliament deputy Hakob Hakobian will serve as a “lesson” to other Armenian “oligarchs” daring to cross swords with the country’s leaders. “They will know that when their masters say ‘no,’ they mean ‘no,’” writes the paper. “This affair may be presented to Armenian citizens as a fight against criminal elements. Needless to say that nobody will wonder why other parliament deputies involved in past brawls are not arrested.”
“Although Hakob Hakobian’s fate remains murky, some in [his town of] Echmiadzin are already thinking about taking his vacant [parliament] seat,” writes “Aravot.” The paper says that according to rumors circulating in Echmiadzin, President Robert Kocharian and Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian have already decided to give the seat to the father of a top army general who holds sway in the town.
“Azg” reports that the ArmenTel monopoly will be sold to the Arabic Etisalat company, one of three foreign bidders for the Greek telecom giant OTE’s 90 percent stake in the Armenian operator. “The good thing about this is that the buyer has voluntarily renounced the legal monopoly on the Internet [currently enjoyed by ArmenTel,]” writes the paper. “This effectively paves the way for a rapid development of information technology in our country.”