Commenting on President Robert Kocharian’s visit to Tbilisi, “Aravot” notes that according to recent opinion polls most Armenians do not view Georgia as a friendly state and many of them even perceive it to be hostile to Armenia. The paper also says that Russia’s decision to close the Georgian border has added to Armenia’s transport dependence on Georgia. Kocharian, it says, will have to “beg” President Mikhail Saakashvili to somehow alleviate the consequences of the Russian blockade. “In response to this request, Saakashvili could say: ‘The question is wrongly addressed. Appeal to your older brother and sponsor that closed the border’.”
The lingering Russian-Georgian tensions can only signal “bad times” ahead for the Armenian economy, “Aravot” continues. “The saddest thing is that Armenia just can not take any countermeasures. We are left to draw comfort from our foreign minister’s remark that Armenia is prospering under the blockade.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” takes a more positive look at the Georgian-Armenian relations, saying that they have improved since Saakasvhili’s rise to power. “President Kocharian’s visit to Tbilisi could open new prospects for the Georgian-Armenian relations,” it says. The paper believes that Armenia could play the role of an “interested mediator” in the restoration of Russian-Georgian commercial ties which would in turn resolve political problems dividing the two countries.
“Ayb-Fe” predicts a “sad future” for a string of leading Armenian politicians, including parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian, Justice Minister David Harutiunian, Prosecutor-General Aghvan Hovsepian and opposition leader Stepan Demirchian and Artashes Geghamian. The paper say they all think that they will be Armenia’s next president. But they are also aware that unless they manage to succeed Kocharian this time they will never win the presidency because “whoever wins in the upcoming election in a country with an Oriental mentality like ours will cling to the post for a dozen years.” So only one of them will be lucky. The paper predicts a new, “more brutal” phase of political struggle in Armenia that will result in unlikely alliances.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that Vahan Harutiunian, a former commander of the Armenian interior troops who spent four years in prison for arranging contract killings, managed Kocharian’s reelection campaign in a Yerevan neighborhood last year and is now engaged in business. In an interview with the paper, Harutiunian again denies that he got a short jail sentence in return for testifying against Vano Siradeghian, the fugitive former interior minister accused of commissioning those killings. “Yes, I did a lot to help Robert Kocharian get elected because … that person is doing a lot of good things, especially on the Karabakh issue,” he says.
Harutiunian also praises Siradeghian, saying that his former boss too “did a lot for the establishment of our country.” “Today we need a man like Vano, a firm man,” he says. “He was a strong minister, a very strong one … Many say that Vahan betrayed Vano. That’s wrong. Who betrayed whom is an open question. Or maybe the state betrayed both of us.”