The Armenian government’s decision to send non-combat troops to Iraq is beginning to stir up debate in the Armenian press.
“Hayots Ashkhar” writes that military cooperation with “the world’s number one superpower,” the United States, holds a lot of promise for Armenia, even though it is fraught with “some dangers.” Armenia does need to somehow “neutralize” the more advanced military ties with the U.S. enjoyed by Azerbaijan. “With its participation in actions unfolding Iraq, our country has to ensure a balanced approach to Armenia and Azerbaijan by the United States which plays an influential role in the Karabakh peace process,” argues the pro-establishment daily. “Also extremely important are knowledge and skills characteristic of the armies of the USA and its allies that will be acquired by our military specialists in difficult conditions.” Armenia must therefore join the U.S.-led multinational force in Iraq.
The dispatch of troops has to be ratified by the Armenian parliament. That, according to “Hayots Ashkhar,” is not a forgone conclusion. “Our parliamentarians will face a complicated and difficult choice,” the paper says, adding that some of its factions, including those in opposition to the ruling regime, could exploit the issue.
“From war to war. What for?,” asks “Golos Armenii.” The paper is strongly opposed to Armenian military presence in Iraq, saying that Armenians have already suffered enormous losses in various “big wars” without being rewarded accordingly. “Shouldn’t the history teach us something?” it says.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” says some Russian media are wondering if Armenia has consulted with Russia before deciding to get involved in the Iraq operation. That Yerevan has to secure Moscow’s go-ahead for such decisions is something which the Russians take for granted, the paper notes. “Russia’s painful reaction already prevents us from registering the victory of [Armenian] complementarity. For complementarity suggests that Armenia’s rapprochement with one of the parties must be acquiesced by the other party, which is not the case in this situation.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” finds Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Khachaturov’s comments on the issue quite remarkable. “In effect, an Armenian army general criticizes the decision taken by his supreme commander. What is this to do with? Probably with the fact that Khachaturov is sure that the opinion of the Russian ‘Genshtab’ (army staff) could carry more weight with the Armenian army than that of the illegitimate supreme commander.”
“Aravot” contends that a new facility inaugurated by an Armenian private television in the presence of President Robert Kocharian and other dignitaries at the weekend airs “illegal broadcasts” and must be stopped. The paper quotes an official from the National Commission on Television and Radio as saying that the Armenia TV channel, which is partly owned by Armenian-American millionaire Gerard Cafesjian, does not have a license to use a new frequency band for its “super system” facility. “The company which is constantly advertised [by Armenia TV] is unknown to us and has no license,” Ishkhan Vartanian says. “The commission has already informed competent bodies about the need to take relevant steps to stop the illegal broadcasts.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” welcomes the arrest of a judge and a military prosecutor in the town of Dilijan on corruption charges. The authorities say two officials were caught red-handed while accepting bribes from the relatives of a criminal suspect. The paper says this is the kind of action which is needed to combat corruption in Armenia.