In an interview with "Iravunk," Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian reiterates the three Armenian principles for the resolution of the conflict with Azerbaijan: Karabakh's non-subordination to Baku, a land border with Armenia and firm security guarantees. He says the Armenian side will not make any concessions beyond these principles. Turning to the plight of Armenians in Georgia, Sarkisian disagrees that the population of Javakhetia is seeking "political autonomy." "I don't think that there is now a necessity for the Javakhetian Armenians to raise this issue because that would create big problems between us and Georgia and other countries. So when I say that stability in Georgia is vital for Armenia, I really mean it."
The powerful minister further denies having made any secret deals with political opponents of President Robert Kocharian. "I will not hold separate negotiations with anyone. I am not that kind of person. It's just that some people want to create problems between the president and the defense minister." This, Sarkisian continues, is part of their strategy of galvanizing their supporters and winning over new ones. Sarkisian adds that Kocharian remains his close friend and associate.
"Hayastani Hanrapetutyun" quotes a Turkish government official as saying that if the newly formed political party of former foreign minister Ismail Cem wins the November general elections, the Turkish-Armenian railway will be reopened within a year.
According to "Orran," the same official, Hasan Koni, also believes that the Baku-Ceyhan oil pipeline should run through Armenia. "This would be both politically and economically more expedient," Koni says.
However, a member of Cem's New Turkey party, Gonal Saray, tells "Hayastani Hanrapetutyun" that it is Armenia that "should take the first step by opening a corridor between Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan." After that, Saray says, Turkey will put pressure on Azerbaijan so that it improves its relations with Armenia. The Turkish-Armenian border will be reopened as a result.
According to "Iravunk," Kocharian's refusal to veto the controversial changes in Armenia's electoral code was a concession to the governing Republican Party (HHK). But that does not mean that the HHK will now be the president's main support base. Kocharian will not risk alienating other presidential allies, notably the Dashnaktsutyun party, by moving too close to the Republicans. Dashnaktsutyun's possible transformation into an opposition party would "ruin" Kocharian's reelection campaign, the paper says.