By Ruben Meloyan
Armenia’s main opposition force welcomed on Wednesday a French-mediated ceasefire between Georgia and Russia that appears to have stopped large-scale fighting in and outside the disputed South Ossetia region.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy brokered the ceasefire agreement during Tuesday talks in Moscow and Tbilisi with the leaders of the two warring nations. However, Georgia accused Russia of violating the truce the next day.
Media reports said dozens of Russian tanks overran Gori, a Georgian city just south of South Ossetia, and traveled down the road towards the capital Tbilisi on Wednesday evening. The Russian military denied those reports.
“We salute the ceasefire agreement drawn up by the international community and Russia’s and Georgia’s readiness, in principle, to sign up on it,” said Vladimir Karapetian, a foreign policy spokesman for the opposition Armenian National Congress (HAK). “We believe that the European community and players with interests in the region should redouble their efforts to fully restore peace in the region.”
Karapetian reiterated the HAK’s strong criticism of the Armenian government’s lingering silence in the most serious regional crisis since the early 1990s that has put Armenia’s transport communication with the outside world at serious risk. “Even condolences have still not been offered at the state level in connection with the deaths of thousands of people,” he told RFE/RL.
The HAK, which is left by Armenia’s first President Levon Ter-Petrosian, earlier condemned President Serzh Sarkisian for not cutting short his ongoing vacation in China. Sarkisian flew to Beijing to attend the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games and watch the performances of Armenian athletes. He is expected to return to Yerevan by the end of this week.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry expressed serious concern hours after the outbreak of fighting in South Ossetia last Thursday. Official Yerevan has issued no statements on the escalating crisis since then.
“The events in Georgia have proved the simple truth that it is impossible to solve regional conflicts by force,” Karapetian said in a jibe at Tbilisi’s ill-fated attempt to win back South Ossetia. “This should be a lesson to everyone, especially to the Azerbaijanis bragging about the size of their defense budget.”
(AFP photo: Russian soldiers in the village of Zemo Nikozi, in Georgia, on August 11.)