Arzoumanian Casts Doubt On Azeri Allegations

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan) — Armenian Foreign Minister Alexander Arzoumanian doubted reports from Azeri sources alleging that NATO Secretary-General Javier Solana–who is currently visiting Azerbaijan–said that the Karabakh problem should be settled on the basis of resolutions adopted during the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Lisbon summit.

"I have strong doubts that Mr. Solana could say such things. During our talks he stressed that the resolution of the Karabakh problem was the prerogative of the OSCE–not NATO. I do not think he could have changed his position overnight," Arzoumanian said. "Moreover–no resolution regarding the Karabakh problem was adopted at the Lisbon summit."

During the press conference to discuss his first 100 days in office–Arzoumanian told reporters that there will be no changes in Armenia’s foreign policy as a result of his appointment–saying that the country’s foreign policy is determined by Levon Ter-Petrosyan.

The greatest success of Armenia’s foreign policy is the de facto existence of the independent Nagorno-Karabakh Republic and the fact that none of the international forums could foist any decision unacceptable to the people of Karabakh on Armenia–Arzoumanian said.

During the past three months–Arzoumanian has met with his counterparts in Moscow–Tbilisi– Athens–Tehran and Istanbul–and plans to arrive in Washington for a two-day visit on Feb. 26. Arzoumanian is scheduled to meet with the foreign ministers of Turkmen’stan–Iran and Greece in the next two months.

Apart from this–there is an agreement that the foreign ministers of Armenia and Georgia should hold regular monthly meetings–Arzoumanian said.

Arzoumanian described Armenia’s relations with Georgia and Iran as being "excellent." He noted that trilateral cooperation will be discussed during an upcoming meeting between representatives of Armenia–Iran and Turkmen’stan.

He reported that the visit by an Armenian Energy Ministry delegation to Iran’scheduled for February 13 has been postponed. "This delay will not cause any problems in bilateral relations," he said.

Arzoumanian will meet with US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright at the end of the month to discuss a wide range of regional issues–including the problem of transporting Caspian oil via Armenia. He said that Armenia has always believed that the best oil transportation route was one traversing the territory of Armenia. However–this problem should not be linked to the Karabakh problem–Arzoumanian said.

He added that the competition between NATO and Russia is impossible in Armenia.

During his recent visit to Istanbul–Arzoumanian presented his Turkish counterpart–Tansu Ciller– a wide range of issues on which the two countries may cooperate in the absence of diplomatic relations. Among the problems discussed was the participation of Armenian specialists in the restoration of the ancient Armenian capital of Ani. Arzoumanian announced that a Turkish delegation will arrive in Armenian the in coming days to discuss the technical aspects to the archaeological project.

[Armenian Foreign Minister Sasy U.S. Taking More Active Role

By Mardiros Soghom

Yerevan–14 February 1997 (RFE/RL) – Armenia’s Foreign Minister said today that the United States is assuming a more active role in the Caucasian and Caspian Sea regions.

Our correspondent reports that Alexandre Arzoumanian made the comment at a Yerevan news conference. Arzoumanian stressed that the United States is particularly involved in a search for a peaceful solution to the conflict over Azerbaijan’s breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region.

A ceasefire remains in place in the mostly ethnic-Armenian enclave–but a final settlement has proved elusive.

Arzoumanina said he will visit the United States on February 26 and 27 to meet U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright. He said talks will include the development of Caspain Sea oil reserves.]

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