(Saturday, March 14)
Galust Sahakian, the parliamentary leader of the ruling Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), assures “Aravot” that it continues to stand by Prime Minister Tigran Sarkisian and has nothing to do with rumors about his resignation. “People are trying to drive a wedge between the prime minister and the Republicans,” he says. Sahakian insists that none of the senior members of the HHK is aspiring to the post of prime minister. He hints that some of the HHK’s coalition partners have such ambitions.
In an interview with “Hayots Ashkhar,” pollster Gevorg Poghosian questions the wisdom of setting up the presidential Public Council, saying that the urgency of a dialogue between Armenia’s government and opposition has all but disappeared over the past year. Poghosian also comments mockingly on the opposition’s latest actions.
Justice Minister Gevorg Danielian tells “168 Zham” that the Council of Europe has never explicitly demanded the release of all Armenian opposition members arrested following the February 2008 presidential election. “You can’t unconditionally free an individual who committed a crime,” he says. “There have been certain [Council of Europe] criteria for the release of an individual. For example, what is substantiating evidence [in a particular case?] Is there only testimony given by a policeman or additional evidence as well? There was and could have been no provision demanding an unconditional release.”
“Haykakan Zhamanak” reports that President Aleksandr Lukashenko of Belarus arrived in Armenia last week on a private, rather than working or official, visit. The paper says Lukashenko has spent most of his time with former President Robert Kocharian in the Armenian ski resort of Tsaghkadzor. It cites a Russian online news service as saying that Lukashenko traveled to Armenia to avoid meeting the European Union’s External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner. “Such a hasty change of the agenda of diplomatic meetings is an extremely rare phenomenon. Especially for a relatively isolated country.”