A member of the Armenian parliamentary delegation at the Council of Europe, Armen Rustamian, denies Azerbaijani press reports that the council’s Parliamentary Assembly will discuss the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict at its January session. Rustamian tells “Yerkir” that it will take some time before the issue goes to the PACE floor. The Armenian parliamentarians, he says, are in the meantime making “serious efforts” to have Nagorno-Karabakh officials included in the discussions.
But as “Haykakan Zhamanak” points out, Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian’s recent pronouncements damage the cause of presenting the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic as a separate party to the conflict. Oskanian’s statements only reinforce the perception that it is a territorial dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
“Aravot” pounces on Dashnaktsutyun leader Vahan Hovannisian’s “proud and aggressive” call on the Armenian government to spurn the $4.3 million US military assistance in protest against Washington’s suspension of sanctions on Azerbaijan. “So let us refuse Uncle Sam’s aid and start cutting each other’s throats. It will be interesting to see who suffers from that.”
“Azg” warns that the “incautious” Karabakh discourse of Armenian politicians and public figures may result in Azerbaijan “drawing false conclusions”. Baku may thus be provoked into taking “imprudent actions” to try to change the current status quo. The Armenians should make Azerbaijani public opinion should “sober up” and not fuel unrealistic expectations of an easy military victory in Karabakh in the event of another war.
“Hayots Ashkhar” attacks sympathizers of Vano Siradeghian, the fugitive former interior minister charged with contract killings. The paper rejects their argument that Siradeghian’s contribution to Armenian statehood offsets his wrongdoing. Siradeghian may have had some positive accomplishments while in power, but that did not give him a license to “kill and plunder,” it says.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that Siradeghian’s Armenian Pan-National Movement (HHSh) is considering putting forward the ex-minister’s candidacy in next year’s by-election in the same Noyemberian constituency that elected him to parliament in May 1999. Siradeghian was stripped of his deputy’s mandate by fellow lawmakers on Monday. The paper quotes an official from the Central Election Commission as saying that he does not have to return to Armenia in order to be registered as a candidate. A mere facsimile message from Siradeghian certifying his consent to stand in the election would be enough, according to the CEC official. The paper notes that reelection to the National Assembly would provide Siradeghian with fresh immunity from prosecution.