(Saturday, December 23)
“Zhamanak Yerevan” says the year 2006 was marked by increased international attention to the unresolved conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh. “More importantly, the conflicting parties were presented with a real variant of settlement, which the governments of Armenia and Azerbaijan consistently refused to put into practice,” writes the paper. “It is irrefutable that avoiding peace was not in the interests of Armenian and Azerbaijani societies,” it concludes.
According to “Haykakan Zhamanak,” Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian’s Friday article in “The Wall Street Journal” was part of his efforts to form an “appropriate image for becoming president.” The paper claims that Sarkisian “does not know what to do in order to convince the world and Armenia that he is the one who deserves to be Armenia’s next president the most.”
“Hayk” says that a number of well-known parliamentarians and even some members of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) are holding negotiations with oligarch Gagik Tsarukian in the hope of entering the next parliament on the ticket of his Prosperous Armenia party. The paper says they see this as their only chance to retain their parliament mandates.
“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” reports that a large group of prominent Georgian-born Armenians, among them Environment Minister Vartan Ayvazian and the central Yerevan police chief Hovannes Tamamian, gathered in Yerevan last week. Another participant, Moscow-based businessman Norik Tevanian, is quoted as telling the meeting that President Robert Kocharian personally urged him to help to “consolidate” Georgia’s Armenian community. “Tevanian said that he will do everything to make sure that the Javakheti Armenians unanimously vote in a way which he likes,” the paper says. “But his speech caused a very unpleasant and scandalous situation in the conference hall. Some of the participants expressed bewilderement … But they were reined in and told to shut up.”
“168 Zham” says that cooperation between former parliament speaker Artur Baghdasarian’s Orinats Yerkir party and General Samvel Babayan’s Dashink part is becoming increasingly evident. “The likelihood of these two political forces acting together in the upcoming parliamentary elections is regarded as quite high,” says the paper. It also claims that Babayan will support another opposition leader, Vazgen Manukian, in the 2008 presidential election.
Citing unnamed sources in the Yerevan municipality, “Golos Armenii” reports that a public park that houses Armenia’s National Pantheon has been privatized. The paper says the city authorities have also sold a section of another public park that includes a statue of Mikael Nalbandian, a 19th century Armenian poet. “Ahead of the elections, municipality employees, who are not sure they will keep their jobs, are in a hurry to sell off everything, while buyers are in a hurry to buy up everything because they may not have such an opportunity anymore,” it explains.