"Aravot" appears to trust US mediator Rudolf Perina's recent revelation that Robert Kocharian and Heydar Aliev agreed on 80 percent of a peace accord on Nagorno-Karabakh. The paper suggests that the Armenian side has already secured international recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh's independence in return for withdrawing from most of the occupied Azerbaijani territories. That concession is bound to be branded a sellout by many hardline war veterans and even some "field commanders," which could create a big headache for Kocharian and Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian, especially as elections approach in 2003. There is only one solution; to postpone the issue until after the elections.
"Hayots Ashkhar" attacks the veteran groups over their latest statement condemning the authorities' readiness to make concessions to Azerbaijan. The paper says they must "reckon with elementary norms of diplomacy" and believes that a "partial return of liberated territories" is an acceptable price for peace with Azerbaijan.
The authorities are also facing accusations of "defeatism" from the opposition Hanrapetutyun (Republic) party. "Aravot" reports that the party's leadership claimed on Wednesday that Kocharian is adopting a Karabakh policy, which is identical with the one pursued by his predecessor, Levon Ter-Petrosian, prior to his resignation in 1998.
"Azg" calls for the consolidation of all those center-right parties that have no links with Ter-Petrosian. The governing Republican Party (HHK) could have played a uniting role in that process but, as it turned out this week, the HHK has no plans to form election blocs. The paper criticizes the stance taken by the Republicans. It says their support for Kocharian depends on whether or not Prime Minister Andranik Markarian will keep his post.
Former prime minister Hrant Bagratian complains, in a "Hayastani Hanrapetutyun" interview, about what he thinks are frequent changes of government in Armenia caused by "palace intrigues" and lack of "political tolerance." "Once a prime minister gets down to work he is immediately confronted with hatred which sooner or later is shared by the president," Bagratian says. However, he says Kocharian is unlikely to sack the current prime minister any time soon because the latter is utterly loyal to him and has not committed "tough political and economic mistakes."
The brother of Poghos Poghosian, the man who died in a scuffle with presidential bodyguards in a Yerevan cafe last September, continues to accuse the authorities of a cover-up. Andranik Poghosian tells "Haykakan Zhamanak" that Kocharian should interfere in the court proceedings to stop "falsification of judicial facts." He hopes that the Dashnaktsutyun party, of which his brother was a member, will "at last" throw its support behind his pursuit of justice.