One of the leaders of the 1988 movement for Nagorno-Karabakh’s reunification with Armenia, Rafael Ghazarian, criticizes Yerevan’s foreign policy for being too “defensive,” in an interview with “Ayb-Fe.” “We defend more than we attack,” he says. “We should attack. The Azerbaijanis disturb the international community more than we do.” He also claims that President Robert Kocharian “will not be forgiven” by the people if he decides to make major unilateral concessions to Azerbaijan.
But as Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian tells “Haykakan Zhamanak” in an extensive interview, any important decision on Karabakh ultimately rests with the Armenian people and the parliament. Oskanian says the OSCE Minsk Group’s co-chairs do have “new ideas” on a peaceful settlement but did not discuss them with Kocharian during their last trip to Yerevan. “The co-chairs, taking into account Ilham Aliev’s being a new president, had some concerns as they did not want to get a negative response [from Aliev] on the very first day,” he suggests.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” quotes opposition leader Vazgen Manukian as warning Kocharian against pushing through amendments to Armenia’s constitution that would allow him to seek a third term in office in 2008. “I think something like that may be on his mind, but I rule out the possibility of [its implementation] because the problems facing Armenia and the fury that the people have will not allow that,” Manukian says. “If he tries to do such a thing it will end very badly for himself and also cause enormous upheavals in Armenia.”
“Aravot” reports, however, that Ukraine may soon become the first ex-Soviet republic to set a precedent of the incumbent president clinging to power for a third term. The paper warns that if the international community allows Ukrainian President Leonid Kuchma to get away with that “many presidents, including Kocharian, will immediately try to find such loopholes in laws.” “They could say, for example, declare that the two previous [presidential] elections took place under the old constitution and, so to speak, do not count. Therefore, the regime must never change for the sake of the country’s stability, investments, jobs and economic growth.”
Interviewed by “Hayots Ashkhar,” the prominent actor Sos Sargsian bemoans a “rampant humiliation of Armenian language” and renewed gambling fever in Armenia. He attacks lottery owners who “earn tons of money by duping the people.”