“Aravot” comments that the Council of Europe statement criticizing plans to hold local elections in Nagorno-Karabakh was an “unprecedented phenomenon” in the negotiating process. The Council has never issued such strongly-worded statements before. Armenia’s argument that Karabakh must be represented by elected officials in peace talks is irrelevant now that the authorities in Stepanakert have been “driven out” of the process. Also, the Armenian government last January formally undertook to use its influence on the Karabakh authorities to facilitate a peaceful settlement. This provides the Council of Europe with a case for imposing “serious sanctions” on Armenia.
But Karabakh Foreign Minister Naira Melkumian tells “Azg” that there are also some positive elements in the Strasbourg-based organization’s recent move. “The Council of Europe is probably trying to use its authority to foster the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and at the same time strengthen its influence in the region.” The more international bodies become involved in the Karabakh peace process the better for the Armenian side, Melkumian says.
But as “Haykakan Zhamanak” insists, the Council of Europe warning means that “Karabakh does not need elected representatives anymore” because Armenia has been negotiating with Azerbaijan for some time without the disputed region’s participation. Former foreign minister Aleksandr Arzumanian says the statement in question will have a “continuation.” The Karabakh Armenians will again be condemned after holding the elections, he predicts.
Meanwhile, Armenian foreign ministry spokeswoman Dziunik Aghajanian downplays the significance of US Assistant Secretary of State Elizabeth Jones’s remark that Karabakh is not a party to the ongoing Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiations. Aghajanian tells “Hayots Ashkhar” that Stepanakert has always been recognized as a separate conflicting party and will rejoin the peace process once it is “moved to the Minsk Group framework.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that leaders of some pro-government Armenian parties criticized Robert Kocharian and his administration during their meeting earlier this week with Jones. One unnamed participant of the meeting is quoted as saying that Dashnaktsutyun’s Vahan Hovannisian, Artur Baghdasarian of Orinats Yerkir and National Democratic Union leader Vazgen Manukian told the US official that “our executive branch is totally corrupt.” So Jones may have been left with the impression that no major party supports Kocharian.
“Aravot” editorializes that the second Pan-Armenian Games that have just ended in Yerevan were not a “national unity holiday.” “It was a holiday for Diaspora Armenian tourists. We, ordinary citizens of Armenia, are happy with that. Yet our participation was extremely limited…While the ethnic tourists made toasts to national unity at Armenia Hotel, a few dozen meters away, outside the government building, veterans of the Karabakh war held a demonstration to demand their benefits which have not been paid for three months.”