President Vladimir Putin’s visit dominates Friday’s Armenian press coverage. “Haykakan Zhamanak” points to the presence of “many Chechens” who it says arrived in Armenia on the eve of Putin’s visit ostensibly “to buy gold.” Security agencies have also taken notice of that. “Nonetheless, the Russian guests feel safe in Armenia and are not as tense as they were during visits to, say, Central Asian republics.”
“Aravot” says Putin will proceed to Lake Sevan on his arrival in order to “catch or taste fish.” “Parallel to that, he will talk to our leader about the bigger fish: our leading enterprises the list of which was kindly submitted to the high-ranking guest in payment for our debt to Russia.” Putin and Kocharian will also touch on geopolitical issues.
“Zhamanak” comments that if the terror-stricken United States is to pursue an even more assertive foreign policy it will need the cooperation of not only the Western European states but also Russia. A rapprochement between Washington and Moscow will, no doubt, be highly beneficial for Armenia. However, the enormous material damage caused by the terrorist attacks may lead the Americans to cut back their assistance to poor countries, including Armenia.
“Iravunk,” by contrast, anticipates a worsening of US-Russian relations. The paper says the ruins of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon buried not only thousands of innocent people but also “the single-polar world order.” From now on, “security and defense will be either for everybody or nobody.” America’s relations with Armenian friends like Iran and Syria are bound to further deteriorate. Yerevan will come under stronger pressure to revise its relations with the countries which the Americans accuse of supporting international terrorism. But a more aggressive US stance will not sit well with the Russians. Consequently, Kocharian will find it more difficult to carry on with his “complementary” foreign policy, the paper concludes.
In a commentary on domestic politics, “Aravot” writes that none of the Armenian parliamentary parties is enthusiastic about the prospect of Kocharian running for president in 2003. This is so because none of them is quite impressed with his track record so far. “At least for the time being, Kocharian does not have a political support base.”
“Azg” says that the opposition claims about Kocharian’s violations of the constitution are baseless. No wonder that the three opposition parties have not yet put their impeachment motion into circulation in the National Assembly. They knew in advance that it will be doomed. It was just a political ploy to force Kocharian to declare the start of the next presidential race.
According to “Hayots Ashkhar,” only a handful of deputies is willing to back the impeachment initiative. Its authors are well aware of this fact. They are simply “planting landmines in the political landscape” in a bid to weaken Kocharian.