“Haykakan Zhamanak” says Thursday’s firefights between Russian forces and Islamist militants who attacked the North Caucasus city of Nalchik had important implications for the South Caucasus as well. The paper considers the fighting another blow to Russian presence in the Caucasus and says having normal relations with neighbors and resolving the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is becoming even more urgent for Armenia. “Armenia needs alternative routes that run through Turkey and Azerbaijan,” it says.
“Moscow is abusing the Russian-Armenian strategic partnership, which is creating prerequisites for anti-Russian sentiment in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh,” writes “Azg.” “Moscow clearly does not want an improvement of the Turkish-Armenian and Armenian-Azerbaijani relationships.” The paper says if those relationships are normalized Russian military presence in Armenia will become “redundant and unjustified.”
“Ayb-Fe” reports that Mher Shahgeldian, a senior member of the Orinats Yerkir Party and the chairman of the parliament committee on defense and security, has been chosen to run the Armenian authorities’ campaign for the success of the November 27 constitutional referendum. “The decision was made yesterday during a meeting between Kocharian and leaders of his coalition,” says the paper.
According to “Haykakan Zhamanak,” they picked Shahgeldian because he was “deemed a softer figure who does not provoke jealousy among the coalition partners.”
“The most important objective is to hold a clean referendum and we will certainly be working in that direction,” Shahgeldian tells “Hayots Ashkhar.”
“Ayb-Fe” says recent talk of Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian losing ground to other potential successors of Kocharian has proved to be misplaced. “The past week has come to dispel such speculation,” writes the paper. “Serzh Sarkisian has openly stated that he is a civilian and will deal with all political matters.”
“My brother [Aleksandr] is doing business on his own. What is he to do with me?” “Ayb-Fe” quotes Sarkisian as saying. “Those are fairy tales,” he comments on rumors that Aleksandr Sarkisian submitted recently a $30 million income and property declaration to U.S. tax authorities. “He declared as much as money in America as he did in Yerevan, as a deputy of the National Assembly. Where is [the $30 million]? I wish he had that much money. I would also make use of it.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that the RAO Unified Energy Systems (UES) intends to buy Armenia’s Hrazdan thermal power plant from the Russian government which holds a controlling stake in the Russian power monopoly. A senior UES executive is quoted as saying that a “final decision” on the UES bid will be made by the end of this year.