Armenia Hails Primakov Appointment

TBILISI (Reuters)–Armenian foreign minister Vartan Okanian Friday hailed welcomed the appointment of Yevgeny Primakov as Russian prime minister saying–"Primakov is a person with enough experience and big capabilities–and we hope that he can pull Russia out of the crisis."

Meanwhile–Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze–along with officials in Azerbaijan also welcomed the appointment on Friday.

Shevardnadze said through a spokesman that Russian President Boris Yeltsin had made "a realistic choice–given the political and economic difficulties in Russia," and called Primakov an experienced and erudite politician.

Primakov grew up in Georgia and has deep ties with the Caucasus mountain country. He has had a long and sometimes troubled relationship with Shevardnadze–a fellow Politburo member who was his boss at the Foreign Ministry towards the end of the Soviet era.

Primakov has played a key role in Russian mediation on Abkhazia. Last year–he brought Abkhaz leader Vladislav Ardzinba to the Georgian capital for unprecedented talks with Shevardnadze–although they produced no concrete results.

Georgian officials said Primakov might influence Georgian-Abkhaz talks in a positive way. "Now he can do more to regulate the conflict," said Shevardnadze aide Levan Aleksidze.

Abkhaz leader Ardzinba was a student of Primakov when he was a professor at the Moscow Oriental Studies Institute.

In emerging oil power Azerbaijan–President Haydar Aliyev’s top foreign policy adviser welcomed news of Primakov’s confirmation and said Primakov was a "very experienced and smart diplomat."

Azeri opposition parties–however–blasted Primakov for his role in a crackdown by Soviet troops in the capital Baku during nationalist unrest in 1990.

Then Primakov–sent to head off a looming crisis–had gone on Azeri television to assure residents that Soviet troops would not enter the city. The next day the tanks rolled in–killing dozens–perhaps hundreds in a bloodbath.

"That man has a direct tie to the introduction of Soviet troops into Baku in January–1990. He’s one of the people responsible for the deaths of hundreds of peaceful Azeris," said Isa Gambar–leader of the Musavat Party.

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