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Yerevan Threatens PACE Boycott Over Karabakh Text


France - Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian speaks at the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly, Strasbourg, 22Jun2011.

France - Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian speaks at the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly, Strasbourg, 22Jun2011.

Armenian lawmakers may boycott sessions of the Council of Europe’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) if it adopts a pro-Azerbaijani resolution on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict criticized by international mediators, deputy parliament speaker Hermine Naghdalian warned on Tuesday.

The draft resolution hailed by Azerbaijan but strongly condemned by Armenia demands Armenian withdrawal from Karabakh and the territory’s return to Azerbaijani rule. It also says that the United States, Russia and France should “consider reviewing” their peace efforts accordingly.

In a joint statement issued on November 12, senior diplomats representing the three mediating powers effectively spoke out against the resolution’s passage at the next PACE session scheduled for January. They warned the Strasbourg-based assembly against “disrupting the negotiation process.”

The criticism raised hopes in Yerevan that the PACE leadership might yet put the controversial document on hold. But there have also been suggestions that Armenia will boycott the 47-nation assembly if it fails to thwart the resolution’s passage.

Naghdalian, who heads the Armenian parliamentary delegation at the PACE, admitted such a possibility. “We may make our decision even before that time [the PACE’s January session,] depending on developments,” she told journalists.

Naghdalian stressed at the same time that the Armenian leadership has not yet “discussed” a possible boycott. “It is now trying to find [political] reserves that could … allow us to achieve a breakthrough at the PACE’s plenary session,” she said. “Other kinds of decisions will be made only if we see that we have no such reserves.”

Naghdalian and other pro-government members of her delegation have been facing strong criticism from the Armenian opposition and independent media for their failure so far to block the pro-Azerbaijani resolution.

Levon Zurabian, an opposition member of the delegation, on Tuesday blamed not only Naghdalian but also President Serzh Sarkisian and the Armenian Foreign Ministry. He said they have failed to coordinate their efforts in Strasbourg.

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