(Saturday, March 21)
“The opposition apparently doesn’t feel the crisis,” Gurgen Arsenian, a businessman and the leader of the pro-government United Labor Party, tells “Aravot,” commenting on the opposition boycott of Friday’s meeting between President Serzh Sarkisian and about 50 party leaders. “The opposition apparently thinks that the existence of the crisis is a useful factor in Armenia. I believe that we have a very serious problem and that problem applies to all of us and that it is right to exchange views, warn each other.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” quotes Artashes Geghamian, the leader of the National Unity Party, as calling the opposition boycott “incomprehensible.” “Our fatherland is sick, and if you have a cure to treat the disease but keep silent about that, then [your stance] is incomprehensible,” he says. “This is a forum where you can participate, come up with the harshest criticism and then decide whether or not it is worth pinning hopes on this government. The very fact that the government is ready to hear dissent, organize a meaningful discussion makes me optimistic at this point.”
“Golos Armenii” says that former President Levon Ter-Petrosian’s decision to run for Yerevan mayor must force Armenia’s main governing parties to take the May 31 elections more seriously. “Let us not forget that in the last [presidential] election Ter-Petrosian garnered more than 150,000 votes in Yerevan, which is a good basis for the launch of a new campaign, ” says the paper. “At that time [in 2008] he was fighting not against Gagik Beglarian, Harutiun Kushkian or Heghine Bisharian but against Serzh Sarkisian, Vahan Hovannisian and Artur Baghdasarian. The difference is evident. Hence, the conclusion that Gagik Beglarian won’t have an easy time in the forthcoming elections.”
“Golos Armenii” notes that under a recently adopted law, Ter-Petrosian will automatically become Yerevan mayor if his Armenian National Congress (HAK) polls over 40 percent of the vote. “That would certainly be a big shock for the governing coalition,” it says.
Former Prime Minister Vazgen Manukian assures “Hraparak” that he and his National Democratic Union (AZhM) must not be considered a governing or pro-government party. “Even the fact that I was appointed the interim coordinator of the [presidential] Public Council does not mean that we share responsibility for government actions,” says Manukian. “That automatically means being in opposition. But right now the opposition is grouped around one pole. Never mind.”