“The Artarutyun bloc and National Unity just had no other choice but to forgive one another,” “Hayastani Hanrapetutyun” reacts to the opposition groups’ joint boycott of parliament sessions. But, the government-funded paper says, no matter how much their leaders exchange compliments and pledge unity, they will again end up bickering in their quest for power. After all, it says, there is only one post of president in Armenia.
“Hayots Ashkhar” is similarly skeptical about chances of opposition unity, saying that President Robert Kocharian’s opponents remain divided and have lost much of their popular appeal over the past year. The paper says the people are particularly disappointed by Stepan Demirchian. Holding a referendum of confidence in Kocharian would only weaken Armenia on the eve of a “decisive phase” of Nagorno-Karabakh peace talks. The pro-Kocharian daily claims at the same time “the overwhelming majority of the people have long turned their back on the opposition.”
But as “Azg” reports, the idea of bringing together the country’s main opposition forces has been realized “at least partially.” The paper says that the Armenian opposition deputies would have put up a more impressive show of force had they followed the example of their Iranian counterparts who have abandoned their parliamentary mandates, instead of simply boycotting the National Assembly. “In that case, the parliament would have really become illegitimate,” it argues. “You can’t make much progress with half-steps.”
“The [ruling] coalition’s confusion was evident yesterday,” says “Haykakan Zhamanak.” “They really didn’t expect that Artarutyun and National Unity, which have highly ambitious leaders, can reach agreement on at least one issue and take a joint action. The authorities have not yet recovered from the opposition surprise and…are taking their time for now.” The pro-opposition paper predicts “very serious” actions by Artarutyun and National Unity.
In a headline titled “We don’t need an ombudsman,” “Aravot” makes the point that the special human rights official would hardly make a difference even if he or she were to be appointed by the Kocharian-controlled parliament. “We have not matured to have a state ombudsman. The state has not matured. The state’s democratic institutions have not established themselves…We don’t need a chief human rights defender acting under the president’s auspices.”
In an interview with “Azg,” a senior Nagorno-Karabakh lawmaker rebukes the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and the European Parliament for treating the Karabakh problem as a territorial dispute between Armenia and Azerbaijan. “The international community seems to be leaning towards exerting pressure on Armenia,” says Vahram Atanesian. Atanesian is also downbeat about prospects for a peace accord with Azerbaijan. “We are of the opinion that 2004 will not see the resolution of the Karabakh conflict either and believe that the parties are now not closer to a settlement than they were in 1994.”