Russia Urges Armenia to Be Flexible on Karabakh

MOSCOW (Reuters)–Russia urged Armenia on Thursday to be constructive and flexible in its dispute with Azerbaijan over Nagorno-Karabakh following the resignation of Levon Ter-Petrosyan.

Armenia’s leaders said after Ter-Petrosyan resigned on Tuesday they were toughening their stance on Karabakh.

"Armenia has recently pursued a balanced and flexible course in its approach to settling the Nagorno-Karabakh problem. Russia believes Armenia will continue its constructive course," Foreign Ministry spokesman Gennady Tarasov said at a news conference.

"We would want the events (in Armenia) to remain an internal matter for Armenia. We would not want them to affect its constructive approach to the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict."

Tarasov said Russia backed proposals by the OSCE Minsk Group–chaired by Russia–France and the United States.

The group has been pushing a two-stage plan which would entail the abdication by Karabakh of six regions of Azerbaijan proper Karabakh has seized.

The proposals "ensure a strong and promising basis for resolving this conflict," Tarasov said.

Russian President Boris Yeltsin expressed regret on Wednesday over Ter-Petrosyan’s resignation and said the former Soviet republic was an important ally for Moscow.

Armenia is one of the few former Soviet republics to have Russian military bases on its soil and its 3.7 million-strong mainly Christian population has long seen Moscow as a protector against Moslem neighbors Azerbaijan and Turkey.

Last August–Russia and Armenia’signed a friendship treaty committing them to closer economic and military cooperation.

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