Commenting on the announcement of U.S. sanctions against unnamed Armenian firms, “Aravot” and “Haykakan Zhamanak” stress that none of them could have sold sensitive technology to Iran without the government’s knowledge. They may be privately owned, but in reality operate under the government tutelage, both papers agree.
“The Americans are going to impose sanctions against enterprises, which are under state sponsorship, for activities in which they have been involved for the last several years. So whatever the wording of the American statements, the sanctions, if applied, will be primarily directed against the Armenian authorities,” writes “Haykakan Zhamanak.”
“In this case, Iran and terrorism are just a pretext,” says “Aravot.” “So it is the high time for Kocharian to think, draw conclusions about why he has angered the Americans.”
“Golos Armenii” speculates about who might be the opposition’s “united candidate” in next year’s presidential elections. The paper believes that HZhK leader Stepan Demirchian is the most popular opposition figure. It says the chairman of the Armenian Constitutional Court, Gagik Harutiunian, is also a potential opposition candidate. “But it can’t be asserted that his political biography is a firm guarantee of victory. Besides, the image of a person who has duly served two presidents would hardly galvanize the disaffected electorate.”
“Hayots Ashkhar,” for its part, says National Democratic Union leader Vazgen Manukian is more likely to take on that role.
A spokesman for former president Levon Ter-Petrosian tells “Iravunk” that most Armenians have lost their confidence in the incumbent president, Robert Kocharian. Levon Zurabian says: “Kocharian’s positions are so weak that the opposition is developing a syndrome of dividing the skin of a still alive bear and they are starting to fight against each other. That becomes an advantage for Kocharian.” Zurabian says Kocharian will try to reach the second round of the elections and make sure that he faces “a candidate who is able to garner quite a lot of votes but at the same time can be controlled.” Artashes Geghamian, the leader of the National Unity party, is that kind of a politician, according to the ex-president’s spokesman. Zurabian also says “the most dangerous scenario” for the current regime is a run-off clash between Kocharian and Ter-Petrosian. “But if Ter-Petrosian is to put forward his candidacy, then several conditions will have to be met. First of all, there has to be a political, social and public demand [for his presidential run.],” Zurabian says.
“Iravunk” says Kocharian is increasingly heavy-handed in his dealings with the main political forces, replacing dialogue with ultimatums. This will only lead to further “political polarization” in Armenia.
Aleksan Kirakosian, a veteran politician who held senior government posts in Soviet Armenia, tells “Azg” that the country’s current leadership should hand over power reins to the younger generation of Armenians. New young cadres should be groomed to replace the existing political elite which Kirakosian says is dominated by demagogues and populists.