An aide to Nagorno-Karabakh President Bako Sahakian tells “Hayots Ashkhar” that contrary to international mediators’ hopes, the resolution of the Karabakh conflict is not on the cards. “Neither internal, nor external political events in the Karabakh settlement process bode well for an agreement on the package presented to the parties,” says David Babayan. “In this situation, the best thing the [Minsk Group] co-chairs can do is to somehow keep the negotiation process active.” That, according to Babayan, means abandoning efforts to broker a peace deal before the Armenian and Azerbaijani elections. He also says that the Karabakh Armenians must participate in peace talks as a separate party.
“Aravot” quotes the chairman of Armenia’s Central Election Commission, Garegin Azarian, as saying that all nine individuals running for president will be registered as election candidates. Azarian says that if the CEC finds something wrong in a candidate’s registration papers he will be given time to make appropriate “corrections.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” takes a retrospective look at the late Prime Minister Andranik Markarian’s role in Armenia’s political life. In an editorial, the paper claims that Markarian for years “defended the people of Armenia against the Karabakh clan.” “The Karabakh is now trying not to be particularly aggressive just because presidential elections are coming up as it needs the resource of Armenia to make [Serzh] Sarkisian president and [Robert] Kocharian prime minister,” it says.
“According to persistent rumors, the authorities have finally decided not to refrain from vote falsifications and to put the emphasis on number-fixing,” alleges another opposition paper, “Hayk.” The paper claims that the CEC’s Azarian has told Sarkisian it will not be easy to “digest” blatant fraud this time around. “In essence, Azarian hinted that he is not quite ready to read out figures made up by Serzh Sarkisian on the night from February 19-20,” it says, adding that misgivings are also being voiced by local government chiefs, crime figures and some businessmen. “They are refusing to shoulder full responsibility for whole electoral districts. They are at best promising to help Sarkisian in separate precincts.”
“Zhamanak Yerevan” says that former parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian secretly met Sarkisian in late December and “demanded the post of prime minister” in return for helping the latter win the presidential election. “It is hard to say what agreements were reached by the two men and whether Baghdasarian will be the latest addition to the list of deceived would-be prime ministers,” comments the paper. “But the fact is that there has been a drastic change in Baghdasarian’s and [his] Orinats Yerkir’s behavior since that meeting … Baghdasarian has apparently agreed to take on a certain role in Serzh Sarkisian’s pre-election propaganda. Namely, to try to convince the public that Levon Ter-Petrosian is not the only opposition candidate who can have supporters, that he too can hold rallies and that his rallies could be bigger than Ter-Petrosian’s.”