“Zhamanak” speculates that Russia may have told President Serzh Sarkisian not to attend Tuesday’s Customs Union summit in Minsk in retaliation for his participation in last week’s high-level meeting in Prague on the European Union’s Eastern Partnership program. Speaking at that meeting, Sarkisian reaffirmed his stated commitment to democratic reforms and “European values.” The paper also points to well-known differences between Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan on trade-related issues. “These disagreements give us reason to presume that until Minsk, Astana and Moscow reach an agreement they will have neither the time nor the desire to deal with Armenia,” it says.
“Of course, on one hand it may seem positive that Armenia’s disastrous membership [in the union] is delayed. On the other hand, all this is happening regardless of Armenia’s will. Therefore it would not be appropriate, to put it mildly, to be buoyed because Armenia remains beyond the decision-making mechanism,” concludes “Zhamanak.”
“That Armenia’s Eurasian integration has hit some snags is evident,” writes “Haykakan Zhamanak.” The paper says they might have to do with sweeping trade preferences sought by Armenia. The negotiating parties have so far announced no agreements on a long list of goods which Yerevan hopes will be exempt from higher import duties.
“Hraparak” says that Armenia’s four main opposition parties have been suspiciously “soft” on the recently appointed Prime Minister Hovik Abrahamian and pointedly avoided nominating a common candidate for the post of parliament speaker. The paper says their candidate could have aspired to at least 55 votes in the 131-seat National Assembly. Their failure to challenge the ruling Republican Party’s choice of the new speaker demonstrates that “we do not have a [real] opposition,” it claims.
“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” says President Serzh Sarkisian has handpicked the Republican Party’s Galust Sahakian to chair the National Assembly because the latter has never been an ambitious politician and will therefore pose no potential threat to his rule. The pro-opposition paper also contends that the makeup of the new government all but formed by Abrahamian does not bode well for positive changes desired by many Armenians. It complains that the opposition is not rushing to capitalize on the weakening of the president’s positions that followed unexpected resignation of Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian.