(Saturday, February 3)
“Zhamanak Yerevan” heaps praise on Armenia’s former President Levon Ter-Petrosian in connection with the 9th anniversary of his dramatic resignation. “Levon Ter-Petrosian led Armenia to independence without upheavals; during his rule the foundations of the statehood and democratic institutions were laid, liberal reforms were implemented; the Armenian side emerged victorious from the war imposed on it and registered brilliant diplomatic achievements parallel to those victories,” writes the paper.
“When Levon Ter-Petrosian read his resignation speech on television late on February 3, 1998, the society was not particularly moved,” recalls “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun,” another paper staunchly supportive of the ex-president. “Demonstrators did not emerge on [Yerevan’s] Baghramian avenue, people did not gather in Freedom Square.”
“Hayots Ashkhar” and “Hayastani Hanrapetutyun,” meanwhile, reprint Defense Minister Serzh Sarkisian’s extensive article that appeared in the Brussels-based weekly “European Voice.” “If Turkey lifts the blockade, my country will find itself geographically closer to Europe, something which stems from everybody’s interests,” Sarkisian wrote. “Armenia already has common interests with the European Union on a number of issues, from regional security to development of democracy. In the name of Hrant Dink’s memory, let us embark on a process of peaceful dialogue that can only be made possible by normalized relations.”
Justice Minister David Harutiunian is quoted by “Hayk” as pledging to disclose “within a week” the political party which he will join to contest the upcoming parliamentary elections. “According to our information, David Harutiunian until recently intended to join the MAK party [of businessman Gurgen Arsenian,]” says the paper. “But a few days ago Robert Kocharian offered MAK leader Gurgen Arsenian and several other MAK members to contest the elections on the Prosperous Armenia Party ticket. As for David Harutiunian, Kocharian has decided to send him to the Republican Party. Kocharian is thereby seeking to have his own team within the Republican Party.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that Nagorno-Karabakh President Arkady Ghukasian left for Moscow on a visit organized by Russian-Armenian tycoon Ara Abrahamian. The paper says the visit is related to this year’s presidential election in Karabakh, suggesting the two following scenarios. “The first scenario is that official Moscow will let it be known to Ghukasian that it is not against his nomination [as a presidential candidate.]” Under the second scenario, Moscow will disapprove of Ghukasian’s alleged desire to seek a third term in office. In that case, speculates the paper, Ghukasian will seek Russian backing for one of his two potential successors: Karabakh parliament speaker Ashot Ghulian and the chief of the self-proclaimed republic’s security service, Bako Sahakian. Incidentally, Sahakian is accompanying him on the trip.