(Saturday, March 28)
In an interview with “Aravot,” a spokesman for the opposition People’s Party of Armenia (HZhK), Ruzan Khachatrian, likens opposition participation in Armenian elections to “going to war.” Speaking about the May 31 municipal elections, Khachatrian says at stake will be not just the post of Yerevan mayor but the central government. She says the Armenian authorities will therefore “do everything” to retain control over the Yerevan municipality. “Of course, doing the kind of falsifications that are done in national elections will be difficult in Yerevan, especially in this case,” she says. “I think the opposition’s capabilities of preventing falsifications and formalizing its victory are much better in these elections.”
“That the opposition chances in these elections are absolute is evident even without close inspection,” editorializes “Haykakan Zhamanak.” The opposition paper dismisses some observers’ arguments that a large number of Armenians unhappy with the government do not like former President Levon Ter-Petrosian either. “Even if this factor was at play in the 2008 elections, it was neutralized by the lessons of March 1,” it says. “As a result, people’s perceptions got extremely politicized and it became obvious that if an opposition citizen does not vote for the dominant opposition force it means he votes for the government.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” says that Ter-Petrosian and his Armenian National Congress (HAK) have inflicted irreparable damage on their relationship with the Zharangutyun party of Raffi Hovannisian. The paper says Hovannisian was too naïve to understand what kind of a political force he is dealing with earlier on.
“168 Zham” says the latest developments in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process are not favorable for the Armenian side. The paper points to French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner’s message to his Armenian counterpart Eduard Nalbandian in which he reaffirms France’s commitment to brokering a peaceful settlement of the Karabakh dispute. “An almost identical message from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was relayed to Nalbandian early this week by the American co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, Matthew Bryza,” it says. The paper also quotes Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as saying that Karabakh will be on the agenda of U.S. President Barack Obama’s upcoming visit to Ankara. It speculates that the international community will turn a blind eye to possible irregularities in the conduct of the May 31 elections in return for more Armenian concessions on Karabakh.