(Saturday, March 24)
Citing the U.S. embassy in Armenia, “168 Zham” reports that the U.S. State Department will not change a passage in its most recent human rights report that refers to Nagorno-Karabakh as an Armenian-occupied part of Azerbaijan. “We understand [Armenian] concerns about the statement in question but can not make changes in the already published 2006 report,” the embassy is quoted as saying in a statement. The United States continues to recognize Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity and believes that Karabakh’s status should determined as a result of a negotiated settlement, the embassy said.
Vyacheslav Nikonov, a prominent Russian political analyst close to the Kremlin, tells “Golos Armenii” that Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian is acceptable to both Russia and the West as the next president of Armenia. “But in order for Sarkisian to seriously aspire to the post of president the Republican Party of Armenia must show its supremacy in the parliamentary elections,” Nikonov says, adding that the HHK’s victory in the May 12 polls is “not guaranteed.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” blasts the opposition Aylentrank (Alternative) for holding its last rally in Yerevan’s Freedom Square despite a government ban. The paper says Aylentrank is deliberately trying to provoke law-enforcement authorities into using force against small numbers of people attending its protests.
“Zhamanak Yerevan” reports that Minister for Local Government Hovik Abrahamian has come under fire from fellow members of the Republican Party over his alleged gambling exploits in France. (A newspaper report last week alleged that Abrahamian and several other senior government officials accompanying President Robert Kocharian on his recent visit to France lost a combined 1.2 million in a casino in Nice.) The paper claims that many Republicans feel Abrahamian is deliberately discrediting their party which was never known for an “impeccable reputation.” Some of them are said to have demanded that the controversial minister be sacked as the HHK’s campaign manager.