(Saturday, 1 December)
“168 Zham” says Armenia has never received as much international attention as it is getting now, ahead of the February 2013 presidential election. The paper argues that Yerevan on Friday hosted a European People’s Party (EPP) summit on Armenia’s, Georgia’s and Moldova’s participation in the European Union’s Eastern Partnership program. “A visit of European officials of such level is unprecedented for Armenia,” it says, adding that this means “Europe is effectively voicing support for the incumbent President Serzh Sarkisian.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” asks Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, deputy chairman of the EPP, whether the alliance of Europe’s leading center-right parties is not worried that by supporting a “dubious” political organization like the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) it risks making Armenians “just as suspicious about European values.” “In fact, we are not supporting a particular party,” he replies. “We have three partner parties in Armenia that are members of the EPP … This is merely cooperation and not support.” The pro-opposition daily is not convinced by this explanation, saying that the value system espoused by the HHK is anything but European.
“Zhamanak” comments on news reports that quoted a senior Russian lawmaker, Nikolay Ryzhkov, as saying that President Vladimir Putin may visit Armenia early next year. The paper suggests that Putin will probably avoid coming to Yerevan before the February presidential election. It says President Serzh Sarkisian would use such a trip to claim that Russia supports his reelection. “Putin is hardly willing to intervene in the presidential elections in this way and to effectively become a participant of Serzh Sarkisian’s election campaign,” it says, adding that he will likely visit Armenia after the vote.
“Hayots Ashkhar” says Armenia’s fragmented opposition parties cannot threaten the dominant positions of the HHK and Gagik Tsarukian’s Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) even if they rally around a single presidential candidate. In any case, the paper says, the HHK and the BHK will be the two main players in the presidential race.
“We are confident that everything will go according to our plan,” Yuri Vartanian, a former weightlifting world champion who is now an adviser to President Sarkisian, tells “Hraparak” when asked about a possible pre-election consolidation of the opposition forces.