(Saturday, January 15)
“Haykakan Zhamanak” wonders how the Armenian authorities will be assuring Thomas Hammarberg, the Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner, that they have complied with PACE resolutions on Armenia when he visits Yerevan this week. The paper argues that the authorities have failed to free all “political prisoners,” objectively investigate the 2008 post-election events in Yerevan and reopen the A1+ TV station. “We are always ready to answer all questions,” the head of the Armenian parliamentary delegation at the PACE, Davit Harutiunian, is quoted as saying in response to the paper’s questions. Harutiunian insists that all requirements of the PACE resolutions are being fulfilled at the moment.
Harutiunian does not say whether more jailed oppositionists will set free ahead of Hammarberg’s trip. “Haykakan Zhamanak” claims that the lawmaker is “drawing up a list of several political prisoners” to be released from jail soon.
“Chorrord Inknishkhanutyun” reports that Freedom House has for the first time characterized Nagorno-Karabakh as a “not free” territory in its latest annual report on the state of human rights around the world. The paper speculates that this could have an impact on the ongoing Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiations. “Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh have thus lost their main trump card in the negotiations,” it says. “Namely, the notion that a freer and more democratic country can not be subordinated to a dictatorship with fewer liberties. And that argument, experts say, has always been acceptable and understandable to the international community at meetings on all levels.”
Hamlet Harutiunian, a parliament deputy from the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), assures “Hayots Ashkhar” that the likelihood of another war in Karabakh “has substantially decreased and will lessen further soon.” Harutiunian points to a new agreement on gas supplies signed between the European Union and Azerbaijan. “Clearly, European countries would not have made such large-scale investments had they not excluded or reduced the risk of a war in the region,” he says.
Another parliamentarian, Gagik Hovannisian, tells “Aravot” that most of President Serzh Sarkisian’s nominal allies in the National Assembly are not his genuine supports and may well sabotage his important initiatives. “That sabotage will be encouraged from abroad, especially from our strategic ally,” he says, referring to Russia. “There will be an attempt to create a force-majeur situation and achieve leadership change or clinch more concessions from the president to the Russians.”