“Aravot” editorializes that the controversial project to construct a railway linking Turkey to Azerbaijan via Georgia will be implemented despite strong Armenian protests. “During all this time official Yerevan’s opposition to this project has boiled down to sarcastically questioning, from time to time, its economic wisdom and enthusiastically noting the fact that the European Union and the USA have decided not to finance the Kars-Akhalkalaki railway for the sake of not isolating Armenia,” writes the paper. “One gets the impression that the Armenian authorities are worried not so much about the implementation of yet another transnational project bypassing our country as the fact that the Americans and the Europeans don’t give money for that.”
“It’s been quite a while since the defense minister [Serzh Sarkisian] put aside his duties and embarked on a pre-election propaganda,” writes “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun.” “It suddenly occurred to him that soldiers have parents and he began making village-to-village visits to meet them. He goes on state radio to answer their questions every day; holds meetings here and there will chess players sitting on his back; inaugurates water mains and stuff like that. In a word, the pre-election campaign is in full swing.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that Sarkisian’s Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) is so confident about its victory in the next parliamentary and presidential elections that it is already “handing out government posts.” In particular, claims the paper, a wealthy Russian-based brother of senior lawmaker Karen Karapetian told Republican leaders that he and many other Armenian businessmen working in Russia will contribute to the HHK’s victory in the polls with cash provided that Karapetian is appointed prime minister in 2008. It says Sarkisian’s and Prime Minister Andranik Markarian’s response to Samvel Karapetian was rather ambiguous.
“Hayk” reports that Sarkisian is also trying to secure the backing of the Yerkrapah Union of Nagorno-Karabakh war veterans for his presidential bid. Yerkrapah is scheduled to hold a regular congress next week. The paper claims that Sarkisian is trying to woo senior Yerkrapah figures believed to be less than supportive of Armenia’s current leadership with pledges to improve war veterans’ housing and socioeconomic conditions.
“Iravunk” speculates that Sarkisian and the HHK will soon be challenged not only by Gagik Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia party but also “other teams” controlled by President Robert Kocharian. “The various and multi-layered intra-government intrigues are proliferating,” says the paper.