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In an interview with “168 Zham,” Matthew Bryza, a former U.S. co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group, says that U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has never made any statements or even “thought” about the South Caucasus and has hardly heard about any of the unresolved conflicts in the region. “In my view, there should be and there will be no change in U.S. policy on Karabakh,” says Bryza. He says that Washington has been doing its best to help the conflicting parties reach a framework peace accord. “This will definitely not change,” adds the retired diplomat.

“Haykakan Zhamanak” quotes opposition leader Nikol Pashinian as alleging a shortfall in the Armenian government’s defense spending which he says has totaled several million dollars in recent years. The paper reports that Defense Minister Vigen Sargsian declined to confirm or deny Pashinian’s claim during a parliamentary discussion, saying that the issue constitutes a state secret. But the pro-opposition daily trusts in the claim and wonders why the government diverted public funds from the army despite the growing threat of Azerbaijani military action in Nagorno-Karabakh. “This question has still not received an answer and it gives rise to many presumptions,” it says.

“Aravot” weighs in on an impending new agreement on a joint Russian-Armenian military contingent. “It is noteworthy that the agreement is not directed against any third country,” writes the paper. “Against whom will that joint military force protect us? Azerbaijan or Turkey? If the contingent is not directed against third states how will it counter security threats [facing Armenia?] … There is still no clear explanations by the Armenian side as to what functions the joint unit will perform.”

“Zhamanak” reports that four Armenian opposition parties -- Bright Armenia, Civil Contract, Zharangutyun and Hanrapetutyun -- have started preliminary consultations on the possible formation of an alliance that will contest next April’s parliamentary elections. The paper suggests that more opposition forces will join those consultations soon. But, it says, it is not clear just how far-reaching the opposition parties’ election-related objectives are.

(Tigran Avetisian)

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