“Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s visit to Armenia raised serious concerns in Armenia, especially after an influential Russian newspaper reported that during negotiations the Armenian side was offered to return several liberated districts [around Karabakh] to Azerbaijan,” writes “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun.” “It is very likely that such an issue was indeed discussed with Lavrov [in Yerevan] and Serzh Sarkisian did not say ‘no,’ and they are now slowly preparing the society for such concessions. It is clear why this is being kept secret for now.”
“First of all, Serzh Sarkisian does not have the guts to openly talk about that,” continues “Chorrord Ishkhanutyun.” “After all, he already participated in a coup d’état, capitalizing [in 1998] on Levon Ter-Petrosian’s courage to talk about concessions. He knows very well that staging a coup d’état against him would be much easier. Secondly, Serzh Sarkisian now needs to win time in order to change the constitution and shift responsibility [for an unpopular deal with Azerbaijan] to the parliament.”
Interviewed by “Aravot,” human rights campaigner Artur Sakunts comments on Sarkisian’s pledge not to become prime minister or parliament speaker if he succeeds in transforming Armenia into a parliamentary republic. Sakunts downplays these assurances, saying that they will mean nothing if Sarkisian stays on as leader of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK) after completing his final presidential term in 2018.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” expresses serious concern at Armenia’s rising foreign debt and what it sees as misuse of multimillion-dollar loans which the Armenian government continues to receive from abroad. “Despite the sharp rise in the foreign debt, our Gross Domestic Product has practically not grown in dollar terms in the last five years,” writes the paper. “That means those loans have not helped to generate strong economic growth.”
“Hraparak” says that it will be “very strange” if disaffected Armenians vote for Sarkisian’s constitutional changes in the December 6 referendum. The paper says they might do so if they feel that those changes “will pass anyway.” “Such sentiment often prevails in our country,” it says, adding that many Armenians also back particular candidates or issues at the request of their bosses, friends or relatives. “So opposition efforts to preserve ‘No’ votes in polling stations are totally unnecessary,” it claims. “Electoral fraud and coercion have long moved from polling stations to homes, workplaces and people’s souls.”