Citing an unnamed official in Robert Kocharian’s staff, “Iravunk” reports that Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian intended to tender his resignation over an embarrassing car accident involving his son Ara, the second in less than eight months. “However, the Armenian president deemed the resignation inadmissible especially at this juncture and banned the minister from even thinking about it,” says the paper.
In a statement reported by “Azg,” Oskanian accepts his personal responsibility for the incident, saying that his son drove a car belonging to the Armenian Foreign Ministry with his “knowledge and permission.”
Thorda Abbott-Watt, the British ambassador to Armenia, tells “Hayots Ashkhar” that the European Union disapproves of the Armenian opposition’s plans to turn the upcoming constitutional referendum into an anti-Kocharian “revolution.” “Generally speaking, we prefer an evolutionary path of development to revolutionary developments,” she says.
But as human rights campaigner Mikael Danielian suggests in an “Aravot” interview, the Europeans may be viewing the constitutional referendum as a sort of “referendum of confidence” in Kocharian which has been demanded by the opposition. Danielian claims that the opposition is thus given an opportunity to achieve regime change in the event of a “no” vote.
“One gets the impression that Robert Kocharian is keenly interested in implementing the constitutional changes through the referendum,” writes “Iravunk.” “Otherwise, it would look as though he lacks public trust.” The paper says Kocharian can end popular apathy about the issue only with “administrative resources.” “Therefore, the local elections must be important to him because he will need community chiefs wielding administrative levers during the referendum.”
“Azg” quotes a legal expert, Sos Gimishian, as saying that Kocharian’s constitutional draft would only curtail the modest powers vested in local governments by the existing Armenian constitution.
“Aravot” challengers official explanations of the renewed fluctuations of the Armenian dram’s exchange rates. The paper says when the dram was rising against the dollar and the euro officials from the Central Bank and the government were presenting it as a sign of the growing strength of the Armenian economy. By the same token, it says, the dram’s depreciation over the past week should be seen as a result of economic decline.