Artashes Tumanian, chief of President Robert Kocharian’s staff, comments on the political situation in Armenia in an interview with “Haykakan Zhamanak.” “I think there are problems and I wouldn’t like to simplify everything and say that there is no cause for concern,” Tumanian says. “In my view, domestic political processes could be seriously affected by external political factors. One should not forget that the Nagorno-Karabakh problem has not been settled and Azerbaijani forces seem to have certain programs to get processes going into their direction.”
Tumanian agrees with the widely held belief that the passive stance of the Armenian opposition has given rise to friction inside the government. But he is quick to add that “that fully fits into the logic of political processes.” “In the absence of a government-opposition confrontation some opposition mood arises right inside the government,” he says. “I don’t have any problem with that.” Tumanian also acknowledges that Kocharian makes key decisions, including government appointments, without consulting with his aides. “With his character and work style he can make important decisions single-handedly and he himself is responsible for those decisions.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” reports that Kocharian came away satisfied from his four-day inspection of Armenian army positions along the Armenian-Azerbaijani line of contact last week. The paper cites in this regard an old saying, “If you want peace, always be ready for war.” “What we want most of all is peace,” it concludes.
“It can now be said for certain that the Nagorno-Karabakh negotiating process has officially failed,” declares “Aravot.” The paper points to recent days’ pessimistic statements by Kocharian, Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian and Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian. The latter has warned that Azerbaijan will have to negotiate only with the Karabakh Armenians if it continues to raise the issue with the United Nations. “It is ludicrous to expect Baku to heed Oskanian’s voice and withdraw its calls for the UN to discuss the issue of occupied territories.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” links the renewed Armenian-Azerbaijani tensions with Kocharian’s visit to frontline positions. “By spending four days in the military units Kocharian shows the Azerbaijanis that Armenia is prepared for any development of events,” writes the paper.
“Azg” reports that Nagorno-Karabakh officials are openly critical of the existing format of peace talks that effectively precludes their participation. A senior Karabakh lawmaker, Vahram Atanesian, is quoted as saying that the unrecognized republic’s president, Arkady Ghukasian, must also be brought into the picture. “The most desirable thing would be for Armenia, the NKR and Azerbaijan to negotiate in a trilateral format where every party would have equal rights and responsibilities,” he says.