“Zhamanak” continues to comment on the creation by veteran politician Vazgen Manukian of a political “club” uniting opponents of Armenia’s current government. The paper claims that the initiative is backed by some Russian circles close to the Kremlin. It says that former President Serzh Sarkisian shunned the first meeting of the Vernatun club and chose to attend and address instead a congress of the European People’s Party (EPP) taking place in Croatia. It speculates that this was Sarkisian’s “response” to his arrested predecessor Robert Kocharian who takes every opportunity to underline his friendship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Sarkisian’s participation in the EPP congress is meant to demonstrate his superiority over Kocharian and Manukian’s Vernatun, it says.
“168 Zham” says that in his speech at the EPP gathering Sarkisian claimed credit for the fact that the Armenian “Velvet Revolution” was bloodless and peaceful. “Sarkisian at the same time gave a fairly tough assessment of what has happened in the country in the last one and a half years,” writes the paper. It notes that the EPP boasts the largest group in the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) which comprises several Armenian lawmakers.
“Haykakan Zhamanak” looks at “dangerous developments unfolding around Armenia.” The paper points to anti-government protests in neighboring Georgia and Iran and says that Azerbaijan is “clearly preparing for war.” “It’s not that under Serzh Sarkisian the authorities were not conscious of the dangers [of such war] and did nothing about that,” writes the pro-government paper. “Of course they did something. For example, they were transporting their business and capital abroad while thinking about the state a little. Serzh Sarkisian tried to normalize Turkish-Armenian relations. That did not work. He then tried to settle the Karabakh conflict by promising unprecedented concessions to Azerbaijan. But that did not work either as they wanted more.” It says that in order to meet these lingering geopolitical challenges the current Armenian authorities should “ensure social solidarity” based on strong public trust in them, strengthen the Armenian military and “put Russian-Armenian allied relations on a more practical footing.”