Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Armenia: Intrigue and Scandal of The Day

Intrigue No. 1: Armenia’s incumbent president Serj Sargsyan names his ‘opposition-friendly’ chief of staff

President Serzh Sarkisian appointed on Tuesday a leading member of his Republican Party of Armenia (HHK), Karen Karapetian, as the new chief of his staff. [...]

The appointment reflects Karapetian’s increased political clout and his close ties with the president. The veteran parliamentarian joined the HHK in 2006 and soon after became its deputy chairman as then Prime Minister Sarkisian completed his takeover of Armenia’s number one “party of power.” He has since been as seen one of Sarkisian’s most trusted allies. Karapetian, 47, is also known for his conciliatory approach to the Armenian opposition. That might explain why, unlike other key pro-government figures, he has rarely been the target of verbal attacks from opposition leaders.

Karapetian made a point of sitting next to two arrested opposition parliamentarians when they were brought to the parliament floor to have their immunity from prosecution lifted by fellow lawmakers last March. The deputies, Miasnik Malkhasian and Hakob Hakobian, remain under arrest on controversial coup charges stemming from the March 1 deadly clashes in Yerevan between opposition protesters and security forces.

Intrigue No. 2: Armenia’s participation in Nabucco pipeline project as part of a “comprehensive Karabakh peace pact”?But what will be the price, I wonder?!

Economics may hold the key to breaking the stalemate in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process. Turkish and Azerbaijani officials reportedly are seriously mulling the possibility of Armenian participation in the long-planned Nabucco pipeline project as part of a comprehensive Karabakh peace pact. [...]

Although details of the recent discussions have been scarce, some experts believe that the three sides have probed a possible bargain under which Armenia would become part of the Nabucco pipeline plans, in return for a greater degree of flexibility concerning Yerevan’s position on Karabakh. [...]

Turkish analyst Sinan Ogan, the chair of the Ankara-based TURKSAM think tank, said that the topic of Armenia’s participation in the Nabucco project came up during US Vice President Dick Cheney’s recent, controversial visit to Baku. "There are serious plans to involve Armenia in this project. Turkey and Azerbaijan were against this idea at first, but now Armenia’s participation seems realistic," Ogan said in comments broadcast September 19 on Voice of America radio.

Scandal: Pro-Government MP Blamed For Deadly Beating I wonder - why the incident has been officially acknowledged by the police only after around 10 days; only after the detention of a scapegoat? Can’t agree more with the Ombudsman (see below).

A senior employee of Armenia’s state television and radio on Tuesday blamed a pro-government parliamentarian notorious for reportedly violent conduct for an attack on a Yerevan café that left one of his friends dead. Artur Sahakian, who runs the news service of the Armenian Public Radio and anchors a talk show on Public TV, also alleged a high-level police cover-up of the mysterious incident that occurred on September 21. […]

Armen Harutiunian, Armenia’ human rights ombudsman, appeared skeptical about such assurances [Unzipped – that the police will do everything to solve the case]. “We know very well that in such cases someone goes to the police, confesses to the crime, spends one or two years in prison, and then walks free after the dust settles,” he told RFE/RL. “This case must be very seriously and thoroughly investigated. We must put an end to lawlessness.”

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