Oskanian Reassures MPs After Karabakh Gaffe

YEREVAN (combined sources)–The parliament committee on foreign relations moved to hold a closed session to discuss the "current stage of the Karabakh conflict regulation and possible developmen’s."

Participating in the discussions were chairmen of the parliamentary standing committees and leaders of the parliamentary factions and groups. Armenia’s Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian–was invited as the guest speaker. Grappling with the public uproar over his remark that Azerbaijani territories were "occupied" by Armenian forces–Oskanian tried to make amen’s with disgruntled members of the parliament–telling them that he was grossly misinterpreted.

Oskanian’s use of the word "occupied" in a recent televised interview–was the main theme of closed-door hearings on the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process held by the foreign relations committee of the National Assembly. The minister attended the hearings to provide further explanations of the gaffe–which has led to a hail of criticism from leading politicians and the media.

Parliament speaker Armen Khachatrian said that the deputies came away "satisfied" from the meeting. Other participants–speaking on the condition of anonymity–said that Oskanian faced tough questions on the Armenian government’s intentions to forge ahead with a compromise solution to the Karabakh conflict. He claimed that Yerevan would not sign a peace deal that would leave the disputed region part of Azerbaijan–one deputy said.

Oskanian was also quoted as saying that the administration of President Kocharian agrees with the main points of a recent statement by parties and non-partisan groups represented in the parliament. The statement issued on April 27–rejected as unacceptable a peace accord that would not lead to "Nagorno-Karabakh’s reunification with Armenia or international affirmation of its independent status."

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