(Saturday, March 10)
“Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” quotes Nagorno-Karabakh President Arkady Ghukasian as saying at a meeting with university students in Stepanakert that the Karabakh Armenians “will never give up our independence.” The issue, he said, “can to be a subject of bargaining.” “We must do everything to establish a lasting peace in the region,” continued Ghukasian. “And in order to achieve it, the Azerbaijani authorities must radically revise their attitude towards Armenians and the population of Artsakh in particular.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” comments on Prime Minister Andranik Markarian’s remark that the Armenian parties running for parliament will get at least as many votes as the number of members they have. “In this case, even if the voter turnout is 50 percent, Prosperous Armenia will have about 37 percent of the vote,” says the paper. “But if Prosperous Armenia gets that many votes, or if that many votes are ‘painted’ in its favor, they will have to give the Republican Party roughly as many votes. Otherwise the chairmen of the HHK and the HHK council, the prime minister and the defense minister respectively, could misunderstand the painters. And as a result, it would mean that these two parties have garnered 75-80 percent of the vote. That in turn would mean that Dashnaktsutyun, the ZhK, Orinats Yerkir, the MAK as well as a couple of other ‘opposition’ parties have to content themselves with the remaining 20-25 percent. Namely, 5-6 percent for each of them. Or some of would simply be thrown out of the parliament compound.”
“Golos Armenii” says all small parties contesting the May 12 elections are “doomed to fail” because even the big opposition parties led by Stepan Demirchian and Artashes Geghamian are not assured of parliament seats. “In this sense, it was very wise of Vazgen Manukian not to participate in the elections,” writes the paper. “He will then declare that unlike other opposition leaders, he refused to cut a deal with the authorities to enter parliament, after which he will nominate himself for the post of president.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” says the Council of Europe and the West in general have still not defined international standards for democratic elections. “On the one hand, such standards are effectively non-existent. On the other, everyone, including domestic politicians, keeps repeating like a parrot that [the upcoming elections] must meet those standards.” The paper claims that Western criticism of Armenian elections is therefore highly subjective and politically motivated. “The so-called ‘international standards’ branding as illegitimate elections, politicians and ultimately governments that do not satisfy the West for some reason,” it concludes.
“Iravunk” says Prosperous Armenia leader Gagik Tsarukian has privately complained that his party’s electoral slate does not fully reflect his wishes. “In his words, the BHK list was edited at the Armenian presidential palace, and that process was personally managed by the chief of the presidential staff, Armen Gevorgian, on Robert Kocharian’s direct orders,” claims the paper.