In a yearend commentary, “Zhamanak Yerevan” writes that for the first time in seven or eight years further political developments are not perceived to be predictable by a large part of Armenia’s population. “What is more, even for the government system those developments are quite uncertain,” says the paper. “Although nothing seems to have changed in our life, 2007 can still be considered a year of big achievements in the sense that day-to-day routine has begun to give way to unusual events. That is, the ice has been broken and the perpetual status quo disturbed.”
“Iskakan Iravunk” believes the Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) increasingly distanced itself from President Robert Kocharian in the course of 2007 and considers that the most important development of the past year. “Whereas many claimed at the beginning of the year that disagreements between Robert Kocharian and Serzh Sarkisian are impossible, now those [disagreements] are more than obvious,” editorializes the paper. “It is also worth noting the fact Robert Kocharian’s blistering criticism of Levon Ter-Petrosian does not, to put it mildly, benefit Serzh Sarkisian’s election campaign.” The paper claims that Kocharian-controlled TV channels are paying a lip service to Sarkisian also by heavily and aggressively covering his activities. It wonders “whether all that is not intentional.”
Political commentator Aghasi Yenokian tells “Iravunk” that Sarkisian has not agreed to appoint Kocharian as prime minister in the event of his victory in the presidential election. “As they say, two heads are not boiled in the same pot,” he says. “Otherwise, both the [electoral] struggle and their holding posts would become meaningless,” says Yenokian. “And even if they reach, by some artificial means, agreement for winning the elections … that alliance will very quickly fall apart and the situation will change in a matter of a month after the elections. Namely, the president will dismiss the prime minister.”
“Serzh Sarkisian has a chance to prove that he really believes in the opinion polls, according to which his rating is high,” editorializes “Haykakan Zhamanak.” “In order to prove this, he must resign as Armenia’s prime minister and participate in the presidential elections as a rank-and-file candidate.” The opposition paper admits that Armenian law does not obligate Sarkisian to do that. “But this is a matter of principle,” it adds. “Does Serzh Sarkisian believe that he has a [high] rating or is hiding behind [fraudulent pollsters?]”
“Chorrord Ishkhanutyun” reports that the U.S. embassy in Yerevan has refused to issue visas to the mayors of Yerevan’s Kentron and Erebuni districts, their family members as well as parliament deputy Ruben Hayrapetian. The paper claims that U.S. consular officials told them that they “do not inspire trust” and may not return to Armenia. It says Kentron’s Gagik Beglarian was denied a visa despite stating that he owns an apartment in the United States.