(Saturday, February 10)
Writing in “Azg,” Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian insists that construction of the Tbilisi-Akhalkalaki railway will not isolate Armenia. “Today we have two neighbors who are persistently trying to isolate Armenia,” he says. “But despite those efforts we have an active Armenia, which is in some cases even more active and engaged than those two neighbors in international organizations like the European Union, the Council of Europe, the CIS, NATO, and the Black Sea Economic Cooperation.” “Where is [Armenia’s] isolation?” asks Oskanian. “It is time to put an end to that self-deception. Do not make judgments about Armenia by looking at Azerbaijan and Turkey are doing, and instead base your judgments on what we are doing and what opportunities we have.”
“Hayk” says the governing Republican Party (HHK) is being forced by President Robert Kocharian to include Justice Minister David Harutiunian on its list of candidates for the upcoming parliamentary elections. “David Harutiunian is sure that he will be on the Republican Party list because he was sent to that party by his boss, Robert Kocharian,” says the paper. “The purpose [of the move] is obvious: Kocharian can not put up with the fact that the Republican Party is dominated by Serzh Sarkisian and his criminal elements. And so Kocharian is now installing his own people there.”
“Zhamanak Yerevan” reports that opposition leader Aram Sarkisian has left for Washington at the invitation of a “number of American organizations. The paper says that during the week-long trip Sarkisian will meet U.S. lawmakers and administration officials, including Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza.
“Aravot” quotes another opposition leader, Vazgen Manukian, as standing by his remark that only “idiots” would sincerely believe that the May 12 elections will be free and fair. (Serzh Sarkisian responded to that by publicly insulting him.) “Doesn’t Serzh Sarkisian know that there have been and will be falsifications?” asks Manukian. “Isn’t he the organizer of those falsifications? He is.”
“168 Zham” carries an interview with the newly re-appointed head of Armenian state television and radio, Aleksan Harutiunian. The former chief of Kocharian’s staff notes that his H1 channel was strongly criticized by European observers for its biased coverage of opposition candidates during the 2003 presidential election. “We are quite seriously preparing for these elections and are confident that the [observer] evaluations will not be worse than they were after the previous elections,” says Harutiunian. “Today I have no pronounced sympathy towards any [political] force. I don’t deny that there was such sympathy during the 2003 presidential elections. I have long worked with the president of the republic, and if I say that I have no connection [with Kocharian] I won’t be sincere.”