“Hayots Ashkhar” echoes the official version of the March 1 clashes in Yerevan, saying that Levon Ter-Petrosian deliberately provoked them in the hope that Robert Kocharian has become a “lame duck” president and will easily bow to opposition pressure. “Robert Kocharian did not become a lame duck,” say the paper. “At the decisive moment he shouldered responsibility, maintained and continues to maintain the country’s normal governance and prevented the situation from becoming chaotic.”
“The authorities must realize that the times and possibilities of cosmetic solutions are gone and that they must opt for very serious political solutions,” political analyst Manvel Sargsian tells “Iravunk.” One such solution, according to him, is to hold pre-term parliamentary and even presidential elections. “True, Armenia is no Georgia, but even in Georgia President Saakashvili had to take a very serious step: to resign and hold a fresh presidential election,” argues Sargsian. “Had he failed to do that, he would have been finished. He would have found himself in the same trap, surrounded by tanks. The Armenian authorities are now faced with the same problem, and it is hard to understand what they are pinning their hopes on.”
“Iskakan Iravunk” says Serzh Sarkisian is beginning his term in office amid “difficult challenges” facing Armenia. “In essence, the new president is forced to simultaneously deal with strong external and internal pressures,” comments the paper. “In case of correctly calculated and satisfactory steps, Armenia will get a chance to speed up its development and significantly increase its weight. But serious mistakes will be fraught with a threat of rapid decline.”
In its first issue published since March 1, “Aravot” says “the most interesting” of government claims made in the past 20 days is that security forces did not fire at opposition protesters during the violent standoff. The paper points in this regard to an video clip posted on the Internet that shows several security officers firing in front of them. “Fortunately, the most active and informed segment of the public, taking advantage of opportunities created by the Internet, received information differing from the official line and today has a clear idea of what happened on March 1 and afterwards,” it says.