Rep. Pallone Meets with Opposition Parties

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Leaders of Armenia’s leading opposition parties say they discussed the prospects for democracy in Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process with visiting Congressman Frank Pallone Wednesday.

Senior members of the five main Armenian opposition parties told RFE/RL that during their meeting with Rep. Pallone they took a common position that Armenia is not a democratic country and needs serious political reforms. Pallone–who is known for his several pro-Armenian initiatives in the US Congress–arrived in Yerevan earlier this week on a one-week visit to Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. He also met with Armenian Prime Minister Robert Kocharian.

Nerses Zeynalvandian–a leader of the opposition Self-Determination Union–quoted Pallone as telling the opposition leaders that Congress is able to more seriously influence the Clinton administration’s policy on the Transcaucasus but needs more information about the region.

A representative of the Communist Party of Armenia–who also attended the meeting–claimed Pallone made it clear that Washington is guided primarily by economic and geopolitical interests rather than moral principles when pursuing its foreign policy. But–according to Shavarsh Kocharian of the National Democratic Union–Pallone said the unity of all political forces in Armenia and the Diaspora would help the Armenian lobby in the US achieve even more remarkable results. Kocharian said that can be achieved only after democratization in Armenia.

On Friday Pallone visited Nagorno-Karabakh where he had already been last August. He was among those Congressmen who successfully lobbied for direct American aid to Stepanakert this fall.

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