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“Zhamanak” is concerned about that Yerevan’s and Moscow’s plans to sign a new agreement on a joint Russian-Armenian military unit, saying that it could increase Russian influence on decision-making in Armenia’s Armed Forces. The paper says that such a deal is risky also because Russia has not been a reliable ally for Armenia.

“Haykakan Zhamanak” says that the Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiation process has returned to the kind of deadlock that existed before last April’s hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh. “Before the April escalation, Azerbaijan was refusing high-level negotiations and then we saw what happened,” writes the paper. “After the April 5 truce agreement reached in Moscow, [Azerbaijani President Ilham] Aliyev was asking for renewed negotiations. Serzh Sarkisian set preconditions for their resumption and they were discussed [with Aliyev and international mediators] at Vienna and Saint Petersburg. Unlike in the situation that existed before the April war, it is Armenia, not Azerbaijan, which is refusing to negotiate now. That may be done on the grounds that Azerbaijan is refusing to honor its commitments and negotiating with it is therefore meaningless. Regardless of the Armenian side’s justification, this is creating a very dangerous situation because of the conventional wisdom that an alternative to negotiations is war.”

“Haykakan Zhamanak” goes on to link the situation with the planned Russian-Armenian agreement on the joint army contingent. “If Armenia is really going to rely on Russia, then who can guarantee that it will not be faced with yet another [Russian] betrayal, like the one which happened during the April war?” it asks.

“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” reports that a senior parliament deputy from the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), Vartan Ayvazian, has hit out at critics of the government’s plans to introduce a new tax for compensations to be paid to the families of soldiers killed or maimed in action. Ayvazian said that those who do not like the measure should leave the country. “Vartan Ayvazian very clearly defined the ideology that has been at the heart of the ruling party,” says the pro-opposition paper. “The HHK has for years acted just like that.”

“Hraparak” denounces the planned tax as “populist.” The paper says at the same time that the government’s decision to introduce the tax in the run-up to parliamentary elections testifies to its short-sightedness. It claims that many Armenians will resent the controversial measure and even take to the streets in protest.

(Tigran Avetisian)

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