“Hraparak” notes that two prominent opposition figures were released from prison during the PACE President Lluis Maria de Puig’s visit to Yerevan this week. “This may buoy the public but it can’t mislead the PACE president,” comments the paper. “After all, their liberation was relative: the incarceration is simply replaced by a pledge not to leave their place of residence.” Yet even that would not have happened without continuing pressure exerted by the Armenian authorities by the West, continues the paper. “This means that for us the Council of Europe is still a [Communist Party] Politburo, while the Kremlin is the Kremlin,” it says.
“Aravot” also notes the Council of Europe’s growing disaffection with the Armenian authorities. “The reason for the discontent is on surface: the majority of political prisoners remain incarcerated, the parliamentary commission the March 1 case is made up of only government loyalists,” explains the paper.
“Aravot” also quotes Suren Sureniants, a senior member of the opposition Hanrapetutyun party, as speculating that President Serzh Sarkisian ruled out a dialogue with the opposition ahead of de Puig’s visit because he was sure Yerevan can continue to get away with misleading the Council of Europe. “They apparently think that they were given six months for stalling for time, rather than taking steps,” he says.
“Hayots Ashkhar” attacks de Puig for his “numerous lectures about democracy” in Yerevan and says Armenia is not yet prepared for democracy. “For Armenia, freedom is now more important than democracy,” says the pro-government paper. “That is, there must be human rights protection, great conditions for doing business and excellent legislation. As they get rich people themselves will demand democracy. It will then be, if one can put it this way, in demand.”
“Iravunk” says that instead of again rallying supporters in the streets, Levon Ter-Petrosian should have waited for another year to see if Sarkisian is really serious about his reform agenda. “The truth is that Ter-Petrosian does not doubt that Sarkisian will make good on his promises given to the public,” says the paper.
“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” claims that the Armenian authorities could not have chosen a worse moment to try to normalize relations with Turkey, pointing to the start of work on the Turkish section of the Tbilisi-Kars-Akhalkalaki railway bypassing Armenia. “That should have been done a long time ago when this railway was not even talked about and when both the Turks and the Georgians were interested in the normalization of Turkish-Armenian relations,” says the opposition paper. “Now the normalization of those relations doesn’t interest anyone except ourselves.”