"Haykakan Zhamanak" speculates about what would have happened if Poghos Poghosian had been murdered in the center of Tbilisi by Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze's bodyguards. The pro-government media in Armenia, it says, would have provided extensive coverage of the killing, screaming with headlines such as: "Supporter of autonomy for Javakhk Armenians killed in Tbilisi," "Shevardnadze kills the idea of Javakhk autonomy." "A group of National Academy members would have gone on TV to explain, day and night, that Javakhk used to be a province of [ancient] Greater Armenia and how Stalin gave our lands to his Georgian co-ethnics. [Dashnak leader] Vahan Hovannisian would have said that Poghosian's last words were 'Death or Freedom' [traditional Dashnak slogan]&And if the state prosecutor had demanded a two-year imprisonment for Shevardnadze's bodyguard in a court in central Tbilisi, the [Armenian] National Assembly would have unanimously taken a decision on Javakhk's unification with Armenia," the paper writes.
Interviewed by "Aravot," Vartan Harutiunian, a member of the presidential commission on human rights, says the cafe murder case is proof that "there is absolutely no democracy in Armenia. "I think Robert Kocharian does not understand what is good and what is bad for him," the former Soviet-era dissident says. "Kocharian did everything to prevent even a semblance of punishment. On the contrary, he demonstratively proved that people from his entourage are untouchable and they can do anything. The demonstrative cover-up of a murder is a much more serious crime."
"Hayots Ashkhar," meanwhile, echoes President Kocharian's remark that Tuesday's bitter dispute in the parliament exposed the irresponsible stance of the Armenian opposition on constitutional reform. The four-hour exchange of insults and recriminations between pro-government and opposition deputies showed what will await Armenia if it becomes a parliamentary republic, according to the paper. It repeats Kocharian's argument that the parliamentary system is not suitable for Armenia.
This line of reasoning according to "Haykakan Zhamanak," is "exceptionally weak." The paper says the majority of the world's seven most developed nations are parliamentary republics. Fights are not uncommon in the parliaments of, say, Japan or Italy. But that has not kept those countries from reaching the highest levels of development.
Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian assures "Azg" that the Armenian army continues to boost its strength, making "constant progress." Sarkisian strongly disagrees with those who believe that there are too many generals in the armed forces. Sarkisian also replies evasively to a question about his position on possible US military action against Iran and Iraq. He says he is sure that the US anti-terror campaign will not lead to "catastrophes." On the subject of a possible territorial swap between Armenia and Azerbaijan, Sarkisian says: "The issue of giving away the Meghri corridor has long been closed."
However, "Haykakan Zhamanak," analyzing Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian's speech at a Yerevan college on Wednesday, says "the Meghri variant remains on the agenda." It says the West is interested in giving Azerbaijan an overland link to its Nakhichevan exclave as part of a strategy to increase Turkish influence in the region. Pro-Russian Armenia now stands in the way of its implementation. The attempts to snatch Meghri from Armenia will stop as soon as the latter shows that "it can become a bridge between Europe and Central Asia."