(Saturday, January 12)
Former President Levon Ter-Petrosian’s first news conference in a decade is a top story in Saturday’s Armenian newspapers.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” notes a lack of tough questions to Ter-Petrosian, wondering if the mood of Armenians journalists reflects that of the public as a whole. “In effect, only two sharp questions/reservations were voiced and Levon Ter-Petrosian gave clear answers to questions relating to the 1996 elections and the suspension of Dashnaktsutyun,” comments the paper sympathetic to the former president. “Now the public is in the process of digesting answers given by Levon Ter-Petrosian.”
“Although Ter-Petrosian did not stand on a rally podium this time around, he could not refuse to act in his beloved format,” says “Hayastani Hanrapetutyun.” “During the news conference, which was more like a show than a rally, the former president’s sound bites were periodically interrupted by applause from [members of] his team … He did not even try to stop the applause which interfered with the journalists’ professional work, even though, as he said, he is against any manifestation of emotional approach to politics.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” says that OSCE observers’ assessment of the conduct of Armenia’s upcoming presidential election will be determined by the United States. “The Americans, who have repeatedly looked into real chances of candidates fighting against each other, have no doubts about Serzh Sarkisian’s victory,” writes the pro-government paper. “What worries them is not the inevitability of that victory but the prospect of it being unconditional, undisputed and invulnerable. In that regard, Ter-Petrosian’s ambitious and aggressive bid, giving the impression of competition, allows [them] to question in the post-election period the legitimacy of the elections and eventually have a weak and vulnerable president in Armenia.” The OSCE observer mission’s main task, concludes the paper, is therefore to make Armenia’s next president “as manageable as possible” for the United States.
“Aravot” urges voters to take a closer look at the campaign platforms of all of the nine presidential candidates before deciding whom to back on February 19. The paper believes that they can find “rational elements” in each of those platforms. Voters should also stop looking for someone who would simply “think about the people,” it says. “Citizens merely elect a temporary administration which must live up to their plans and expectations.”
“Hayk” quotes the campaign manager of presidential candidate Artur Baghdasarian as complaining that the former parliament speaker lacks access to television and has trouble getting his message across. “Since May our candidate has been on television for six times, while Serzh Sarkisian for 30,000 times,” says Heghine Bisharian.