“Iravunk” writes that Tuesday’s opposition rally will take place in “noteworthy” circumstances such as the absence of President Robert Kocharian from Armenia and the decision by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe to discuss the Armenian crisis on Wednesday. “It looks like if more persecutions take place during or after the opposition rally they will immediately become a subject of discussions in Strasbourg. Thus those with opposition sentiment will feel buoyed, while the authorities will have fewer possibilities of using those levers which some pro-government figures consider means of government self-defense.”
As for the purported dialogue between the government and the opposition, “Iravunk” says the latter is now nearly as politically strong as the three-party coalition due to the wave of the anti-Kocharian protests. The paper adds that the bulk of the opposition demands discussed at the talks can only be met by Kocharian rather than the coalition parties.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” also finds important the PACE debate on Armenia. “This once again testifies to the European nations’ particular interest in processes going on in Armenia and their resolve to promote democratization in Armenia.” The pro-opposition paper is also unhappy with the Artarutyun bloc’s decision to start “futile” talks with the Republican, Orinats Yerkir and Dashnaktsutyun parties. It sees an alarming softening in the opposition behavior. “What’s the point of having that imitation of a dialogue when the ruling coalition declares, ‘We will not negotiate with the opposition on the president’s resignation, the referendum of confidence and regime change?’”
But “Hayots Ashkhar” welcomes the start of the talks. “The ice has been broken, the start of the dialogue is promising,” the paper declares. But it goes on to quote a pro-Kocharian parliamentarian, Hamlet Harutiunian, as predicting that the dialogue “will not work because the opposition is not independent.” “Its actions are planned and directed by a third force,” he says.
“Aravot” reports that addressing the Armenian community in Tehran on Saturday, Dashnaktsutyun leader Hrant Markarian urged Kocharian to fight against “poverty, corruption and injustice” in earnest. “You were saying in your pre-election and post-election speeches that you will fight against those phenomena,” Markarian said in remarks addressed to Kocharian. “But we don’t see tangible steps or a clearly organized fight.” Turning to the opposition, Markarian said that it is supported by “a part of the people” not for effecting regime change but for alleviating social hardships. He warned that the opposition campaign against Kocharian could make Armenia more dependent on unspecified external forces.