Pargev Ohanian, a former judge now supporting the Armenian opposition, tells “Zhamanak Yerevan” that the sanctions threatened by the Council of Europe are a “moral slap” on Armenia’s face. “Of course, if the country has a face,” says Ohanian. “If not, then moral sanctions won’t change anything. In that case, other sanctions would have to be taken, which I wouldn’t want to see happen.”
“We must be happy that we are treated more fairly than Azerbaijan,” adds Ohanian, commenting on government claims that the Council of Europe is applying double standards to Baku and Yerevan. “The Council of Europe views countries like ours as children. They think that Azerbaijan is a brat who won’t change ways no matter how much you tell him.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” confirms reports that John Prescott and Georges Colombier, senior representatives of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) who visited Yerevan last week, urged the government to amend Article 300 of the Armenian Criminal Code relating to attempts to “usurp state power by force.” The clause has been used against the most prominent of opposition members arrested after the February 2008 election. The paper says Prescott and Colombier believe that amending it would ease tensions between the government and the opposition.
“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” comments on U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza’s call for Armenians to trust and support President Serzh Sarkisian’s Karabakh policy. According to the opposition paper, the implication of Bryza’s remark is that Sarkisian does not enjoy such trust now. “This is an open mockery of Serzh Sarkisian,” it claims.
Hrant Markarian, a top leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), is quoted by “Hraparak” as saying that the authorities should not have necessarily called a general amnesty for all arrested oppositionists. “Of course, this is not the only steps that could have been taken by the authorities,” Markarian tells the paper. “There are also other solutions because it’s all about several criminal code clauses that cane be interpreted politically.” Markarian believes that the authorities are not scared of letting those oppositionists go. This, he says, is a matter of principle for them. “That is, if you make a concession under external pressure, it becomes a pattern,” explains the Dashnaktsutyun leader. “And that is not good for the country.”
“Kapital” says that the PACE’s decision to suspend the voting rights of its Armenian members could give a new impetus to opposition activity in the country. The paper quotes Arman Musinian, a spokesman for Levon Ter-Petrosian’s Armenian National Congress (HAK), as saying that the opposition alliance could change its tactic as a result.