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Armenian Parliament Still Divided Over Karabakh Recognition Bill


Armenia -- Armen Martirosian of the Zharangutyun Party (L) talks to its top leader, Raffi Hovannisian, during a party congress, 10Jul2010.

Armenia -- Armen Martirosian of the Zharangutyun Party (L) talks to its top leader, Raffi Hovannisian, during a party congress, 10Jul2010.

An opposition faction in the Armenian parliament pushing for a formal recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh’s independence by Yerevan said on Wednesday its talks with other factions over the fate of the proposed legislation had not yet resulted in a compromise.


Parliament Speaker Hovik Abrahamian said on Tuesday that the political majority opposed to passing such a bill immediately considering the continuing internationally mediated search for peace in the Karabakh conflict would try to persuade its Zharangutyun (Heritage) counterparts to postpone the vote.

Earlier this month, Zharangutyun already postponed such a vote and by the parliament’s regulations it was due to come up again during the current four-day session.

Zharangutyun leader Raffi Hovannisian said after his nearly one-hour-long meeting with Abrahamian and leaders of the four other parliamentary factions, all of which are unhappy with the prospect of voting on a Karabakh recognition bill at this moment, that “unless an ultimate mutual agreement is reached by Thursday noon, the bill will be put to a vote.”

“Certain attempts are being made, everyone wants to solve this common pan-national issue, but a political will is necessary… We hope a solution will be found by Thursday noon and we will move forward in the spirit of unity [in this matter],” said Hovannisian. “This bill should be at least on the parliament’s big agenda and those who do not want to vote now because of concerns about the timing of the vote should make efforts until tomorrow afternoon to allow this bill to be put on the agenda.”

If held, the vote on the bill will come soon after the latest round of talks on Nagorno-Karabakh that the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan were scheduled to hold in Russia on Wednesday, at the initiative of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

Armenia’s political majority has repeatedly called Zharangutyun’s push for such legislation premature, voicing concerns that passing such a law would potentially complicate the current peace process.

President Serzh Sarkisian-led ruling Republican Party and its governing coalition partners say such a step could be used as the “last resort” at later stages of the negotiations.

The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun), the other opposition force in the current parliament, also voiced concerns about the timing of the vote.

The extra-parliamentary opposition Armenian National Congress led by ex-president Levon Ter-Petrosian has also challenged the wisdom of pushing for Karabakh’s formal recognition at the current stage.

Some pro-government politicians have gone as far as accusing Zharangutyun of trying to use the issue for its internal political purposes.

Zharangutyun’s leader, meanwhile, said he did not think that the planned meeting between the presidents of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Russia could have any essential impact on the outcome of the vote on the bill.

“Neither today’s meeting, nor a meeting in [Kazakh capital] Astana [in early December] or any separate situation can change the legal credo of the Republic of Armenia that the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic must be recognized. And it calls for action and must be done by law,” Hovannisian said.

Galust Sahakian, the head of the ruling Republican Party’s parliamentary faction, told RFE/RL’s Armenian service (Azatutyun) later on Wednesday that he expected the bill to be put to a vote, but said it will not be passed.

He did not elaborate on whether his faction would vote against the bill. “That is already a technical matter,” Sahakian added.

Dashnaktsutyun also regretted the development, but still said its faction would vote in favor of the bill should it be put to a vote.
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