(Saturday, July 14)
Commenting on the latest statement by the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, “Aravot” says that neither Ilham Aliev, nor Robert Kocharian will press ahead with unpopular mutual concessions on Nagorno-Karabakh ahead of next year’s presidential elections in their countries. “The former has acted like a ‘war hawk’ in order to ensure his reelection, while the latter will also be guided by the ‘not-an-inch-of-land’ principle to avoid escalating the situation ahead of the elections,” writes the paper.
“In essence, the political situation in Armenia is quite simple,” says “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun.” “The authorities are trying to make Serzh Sarkisian president in 2008; Dashnaktsutyun, as a government force, intends to act with its own candidate in order to help Serzh Sarkisian (by taking away votes from the opposition); while the opposition is trying to unite … If it manages to unite, there will be a fight; if it doesn’t, Serzh Sarkisian will become president.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” likewise claims that Dashnaktsutyun will field a presidential candidate in order to harm the opposition, rather than make life harder for Sarkisian. The paper says that that candidate will be Armen Rustamian.
According to “Taregir,” the radical opposition Hanrapetutyun party, the former ruling HHSh and the Aylentrank movement make no secret of the fact that their preferred presidential candidate is former President Levon Ter-Petrosian. While admitting that Ter-Petrosian is still a highly divisive figure who can hardly unite the Armenian opposition, the paper urges the three opposition groups to become more vocal in their support for the ex-president’s participation in the 2008 election. “Only in that case will it become clear whether during this long period [since 1997] the people have looked at the first president’s ‘War or peace’ article, and if so, what conclusions they have drawn,” it says.
In a separate comment, “Taregir” says the Armenian authorities’ perceived efforts to thwart RFE/RL broadcasts in Armenia are not only a serious threat to press freedom but a gesture of their “ingratitude” towards the United States. The paper believes that an end to the retransmission of RFE/RL programs would be a worst possible response to U.S. plans to provide additional economic assistance to Armenia under its Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) program. It says that having failed to push a relevant bill through parliament, the authorities could simply force Armenian Public TV and Radio to discontinue the retransmission.
“If we take into account the fact that ending Radio Liberty broadcasts remains a top priority for the authorities, then it can be suggested that a political decision has been made to solve the issue in a different fashion,” writes “168 Zham.” “Namely, the Public TV board does not accept Radio Liberty’s proposal to sign a [new retransmission] agreement and simply does not sign such an agreement … So they will opt for a phased, rather than package variant of closing Radio Liberty.”