“Zhamanak” claims that Prosperous Armenia Party (BHK) leader Gagik Tsarukian demanded a power-sharing deal with President Serzh Sarkisian in his speech at a conference held on Thursday. “Tsarukian said that he is the one who keeps people from taking to the streets and that he will stop doing that unless the authorities agree with him on a coalition government,” speculates the paper. It says this stance contradicts calls for a “complete regime change” in Armenia which the BHK leadership made in the autumn. Tsarukian has thus softened his anti-government position, it says.
“Hayots Ashkhar” says Tsarukian repeated many of the statements which he made during last October’s rallies in Yerevan which were organized by the BHK and the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) and Zharangutyun (Heritage) parties. The paper is surprised by the absence of Levon Ter-Petrosian and other senior HAK figures from Thursday’s opposition gathering.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” disputes assertions that with violent crackdowns like the January 31 incident at the Karabakh border the Armenian authorities only add to popular discontent with their policies and thereby weaken their hold on power. “The thing is that the public in Armenia has long been standing up to the authorities and it is this kind of violence which has enabled the authorities to cling to power for almost 20 years despite the fact that most people have yearned for regime change,” writes the paper. “You will not in the history of Armenia a single case where violence weakened the ruling regime. There have been no such cases also because opposition forces and leaders have always reacted to violence in a wrong way. So what is the right reaction? The answer to this question has yet to be found.”
Accordingly, “Haykakan Zhamanak” believes that it is also wrong to claim that opposition groups actually benefit from government crackdowns. “They may get more public spotlight and sympathy,” it says. “But at the end of the day, violence reflects negatively on any political force if it fails to strike back quickly and in a dignified way.”
“Hraparak” says, however, that the Karabakh crackdown on several dozen members of the Founding Parliament will earn the small opposition group a larger following. The paper says the violence also dealt a serious blow to Karabakh leadership’s reputation and even prospects for its international recognition.