“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that President Robert Kocharian has officially set the date for Armenia's constitutional referendum: November 27. The paper says some people in the presidential camp thought the voter turnout would be higher if the referendum was held on a weekday. However, Kocharian decided to schedule it for a Sunday because he understands that the Armenian opposition is now “divided and demoralized.” “Besides, the authorities added a provision to the electoral code that enables them to make the effectiveness of vote bribes close to 100 percent.” Under that provision a voter has to have their marked ballot sealed by an election commission official before casting it.
“So in order to ensure the necessary referendum result, the authorities need to hand out $8 million in vote bribes. That is a small sum for them,” concludes “Haykakan Zhamanak.”
In a separate editorial, “Haykakan Zhamanak” says the “drastic change” in Kocharian’s position on the issue of partly restoring Soviet-era bank savings was not accidental. The paper considers it “yet another serious step toward handpicking his future successor.” “The move was not only in favor of Artur Baghdasarian but also against Serzh Sarkisian,” it claims. “Kocharian has done everything to make sure that during the discussion and a possible resolution of the issue the Republican Party [of Prime Minister Andranik Markarian] not only fails to win any political dividends but faces utmost humiliation.”
“Azg” joins newspaper attacks on Markarian over the fact that the arrested mayor of the town of Nor Hajn killed a man with a pistol that had been given to him by the Armenian premier. The paper says the very practice of handing out weapons to various-level government officials “attests to the criminalization of Armenia’s government.” It says in recent years several officials got away with murders just because they had powerful patrons in the government. The Nor Hajn mayor may not be an exception, concludes “Azg.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” writes that the start of accession talks with the European Union has left Turkey in a “trap.” “Regardless of the course of the EU-Turkey negotiations and Turkey’s fulfillment of new EU demands, they key players of continental Europe will never allow Turkey’s membership in the European family with the backing of 90 percent of their population and the Pope’s blessing,” predicts the paper. It also claims that Turkey will resort to “blackmail and false promises” during the negotiation process.