“Aravot” says it pretty much knows what President Robert Kocharian will say in his speech in Strasbourg on Wednesday but regrets not being able to predict questions that will be asked by members of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. “Will they ask why the shaven heads got off with only fines for attacking journalists, while a demonstrator who hit a policeman with a bottle was jailed for 1.5 years? It is very likely that they won’t care because the Europeans have limited information about what happened.” The paper says there are three sources of that information: PACE rapporteur Jerzy Jaskiernia, the Armenian authorities and the opposition. At least two of them can not be considered impartial.
According to “Haykakan Zhamanak,” the question-and-answer session at the PACE carries risks for Kocharian because the questions to be asked by Strasbourg lawmakers will be quite different from the ones he gets from Armenian state television. “On the other hand, Armenia has been working through diplomatic channels to ensure favorable conditions for Kocharian on the Parliamentary Assembly floor,” the paper claims, adding that Yerevan has already secured promises from Turkey and Azerbaijan that their lawmakers will not put “nasty questions” to the Armenian president.
“Hayots Ashkhar” laments that demands made by the Council of Europe and other European structures are being taken too seriously in Armenia, echoing Kocharian’s recent remark that the Strasbourg-based organization is not a Soviet-era Politburo for Armenia. “Sometimes one gets the impression that the process of Armenia’s integration into the European structures is not a strategic priority but some mandatory-voluntary undertaking in which we engaged to avoid trouble,” the pro-presidential paper says. It hopes that Kocharian’s visit to Strasbourg will help to change that perception. Armenia should deal with Europe “from the moral high ground of a nation and a state representing its system of values in the region.”
“Iravunk” writes that Kocharian will return from Strasbourg with “reinforced positions,” basing this conclusion on positive statements made in Yerevan by Jaskiernia. Commenting on Prime Minister Andranik Markarian’s latest “tough statements” addressed to his coalition partners, the paper speculates that the presidential administration is either bent on undercutting the political clout of Markarian’s Republican Party or firing the entire cabinet.
“While neighboring Georgia is waging a tangible fight against corruption, some people in Armenia apparently continue to believe that our society has come to terms with that phenomenon,” writes “Golos Armenii.” The paper believes that it is law-enforcement bodies, not political parties, that must implement anti-corruption initiatives. “But in order for the law-enforcement officials to deal with criminals, there must be a government which allows that and has really decided to combat corruption,” it notes ruefully.