(Saturday, April 16)
“Chorrord Inknishkhanutyun” reports that the International Monetary Fund has spoken out against President Serzh Sarkisian’s pledge to give tax breaks to innovative manufacturers. It also says that U.S. Ambassador Marie Yovanovitch confirmed on Friday that Armenia is not eligible to receive U.S. Millennium Challenge Account program. The paper says government loyalists will accuse the IMF and the U.S. of meddling in Armenia’s international affairs.
“But the problem is that Armenia itself has borrowed huge loans from the IMF and assumed some obligations in return,” it argues. “Armenia itself asked the Millennium Challenge Corporation [for assistance] and again assumed some obligations. And generally speaking, Armenia is a member of the OSCE and has an obligation to hold normal elections, respect freedom of speech and so on.”
“Hraparak” quotes the Armenian police chief, Alik Sargsian, as saying that riot police may well allow the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK) to hold more rallies in Yerevan’s Liberty Square provided that they are “peaceful and properly organized.” The paper wonders why the HAK asks the Yerevan municipality to permit those rallies. And why does Armenia need a law on demonstrations in the first place? “There are no laws [in Armenia] that cannot be circumvented and, if necessary, disregarded,” claims the paper.
In an interview with “Zhamanak,” Gagik Jahangirian, a leader of the HAK, makes a case for a dialogue between the government and the opposition, saying that “the country and the people would certainly benefit from it.” Jahangirian says the authorities do not want such a dialogue because they were not elected by the people and are reluctant to free all political prisoners. They feel that any major concession to the HAK would be seen as a sign of weakness that could lead to their downfall, he says.
“Yerkir” accuses HAK leader Levon Ter-Petrosian of misleading his supporters with contradictory statements on what the authorities must to do satisfy his alliance. The paper says Ter-Petrosian has effectively abandoned a dozen mostly socioeconomic demands addressed to the authorities.
Speaking to “Hayots Ashkhar,” Nagorno-Karabakh President Bako Sahakian’s spokesman Davit Babayan casts doubt on international mediators’ apparent belief that the conflicting parties can now finalize the basic principles of a peaceful settlement and start working on a comprehensive peace accord. Babayan points to Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev’s latest remarks in which he rejected any settlement that would not put Karabakh back under Azerbaijani control. Babayan also says a breakthrough in peace talks will not be possible until the Karabakh Armenians directly participate in them.