Kocharian to Attend NATO Celebrations in US

YEREVAN (RFE/RL–Armenpress)–President Robert Kocharian will take part in official ceremonies in Washington later this month marking the 50th anniversary of NATO’s establishment despite Armenia’s opposition to the Alliance’s air strikes against Yugoslavia–officials said on Tuesday.

"Participation in the NATO summit is on the president’s schedule," Vahram Gabrielian–Kocharian’s press secretary–told reporters. The Armenian foreign ministry had earlier criticized NATO’s ongoing aerial bombardment of Yugoslav targets over Belgrade’s refusal to accept an international peace plan on Kosovo. It said there remained ways for a peaceful resolution of the conflict in the troubled Serbian province.

The NATO summit will overlap with April 24–the day of remembrance for the victims of the 1915 genocide of Armenia’s in the Ottoman Empire. Gabrielian said Kocharian’s absence from Armenia will not mean that Yerevan has softened its resolve to pursue international recognition of the tragedy.

"Armenia cannot afford pursuing a one-sided and isolated foreign policy. All opportunities must be used to have our views heard [abroad]," the spokesman’said. He added that Kocharian is not scheduled to meet with the Azeri and Turkish presidents while in Washington–as some media reports have said. "Such a meeting is not on the president’s agenda," he said.

Gabrelian also assessed Kocharian’s recent visit to Moscow and the summit of CIS leaders–reported Armenpress news agency.

The spokesman’said that the most productive aspect of the summit was the reevaluation of the CIS free trade zone agreement–which was signed in 1994. During this discussion–Gabrielian reported–Azerbaijan stated that it could not comply with the provisions of the free trade agreement with Armenia.

In discussing conflict resolutions within the CIS–Kocharian has expressed that regional inviolability should not be the sole guiding principle and other aspects and principles must be taken into consideration.

While attending the summit–Kocharian met personally with Russian foreign minister Igor Ivanov–Georgian president Eduard Shavardnadze and Azeri president Haydar Aliyev–with whom a resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was discussed to no avail.

"Unfortunately–the meeting proved that disagreemen’s between the sides are too numerous and an atmosphere of mutual trust did not exist," evaluated Gabrielian.

According to the presidential spokesperson–Aliyev has announced that Azerbaijan has rejected the most recent OSCE peace proposal since the independence of Karabakh would receive undue credence. The Armenian and Karabakh sides–on the other hand–have said they cannot make further concessions.

Gabrielian concluded by announcing that Kocharian was scheduled to hold a press conference on April 6 to evaluate his one-year in April.

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