(Saturday, July 30)
“Hayots Ashkhar” says Armenia’s next parliamentary elections due in May 2012 will be a crucial test for the country’s leading political forces ahead of the 2013 presidential ballot. “Their outcome is not predetermined at all,” writes the pro-establishment paper. It sees rivalry developing within both the government and opposition camps. “Despite serious changes made in the Electoral Code, it is clear that Armenia is not yet ready to hold elections fully meeting international standards,” continues the paper. “Years are needed for that. Modern-day Armenia cannot be described as a perfect democracy or a dictatorship. A semi-democratic model of sorts has taken shape here and it has generally accommodated both the society and the authorities.”
“Chorrord Inknishkhanutyun” says the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) will hold its next rally on Tuesday in very challenging circumstances: during a “dead political season” and in the sizzling heat. The rally, says the opposition daily, will be “exceptional” because it is aimed at getting the public involved in the ongoing negotiations between the HAK and President Serzh Sarkisian’s governing coalition. It claims that the outcome of those negotiations depends on attendance at the rally. “If the rally is powerful, the authorities will more easily understand that pre-term elections are inevitable,” concludes “Chorrord Inknishkhanutyun.”
Vartan Bostanjian, a parliament deputy from the pro-government Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) participating in the talks, tells “Hraparak” that it is “inappropriate” to claim that by agreeing to discuss fresh elections with the HAK the coalition made such a scenario inevitable. “Pre-term elections can’t be an end in itself,” he says, adding that he sees no legal and political grounds for their conduct in Armenia. Bostanjian also criticizes opposition threats to step up anti-government protests in September. He insists that there will be no “confrontation” between the two sides.
“Aravot” carries an interview with the controversial Archbishop Navasard Kchoyan, one of Armenia’s most high-ranking clerics. Kchoyan defends his warms ties with Armenia’s top political leaders and his open support for President Sarkisian and the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) in the last national elections. He argues that many other priests from his diocese covering Yerevan and much of southern Armenia participated in opposition rallies held in the city’s Liberty Square. “They could not have participated had we not allowed them to. But we showed broad-mindedness,” Kchoyan says, adding that government officials have not complained about that.
“As for supporting the Republican Party, my friends are there,” continues the archbishop. “All [previous Armenian] presidents have demonstrated their traits. What’s wrong with familiarizing ourselves with the traits of this president as well? I trust in [Serzh Sarkisian.] His destiny is tied to Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) and national security. But my sympathy doesn’t mean that the whole clergy of the Ararat Diocese [of the Armenian Apostolic Church] thinks in the same way.”