Kocharian Says Armenia Will Recognize MKR If Talks Fail

YEREVAN (Yerkir/RFE/RL)–Although Armenian President Robert Kocharian still believes that a resolution to the Karabagh conflict can be reached through negotiations–he said Wednesday that if Azerbaijan hardens its stance and prepares for a military solution to the dispute Armenia will formally recognize the Mountainous Karabagh Republic (MKR).

Aside from formal recognition–Kocharian said Armenia will legally formalize its responsibility for the security of Karabagh–reinforce the security zone around it–and further reforms in Armenia to ensure development of the economy.

Kocharian also pointed out that the best format for the negotiations would be "between Azerbaijan and Nagorno Karabagh with the active participation of Armenia."

Armenia’s governing coalition announced its support for the President’s statemen’s Friday–saying that Kocharian’s televised remarks were a natural response to hawkish statemen’s made by Azeri President Ilham Aliyev after the Armenian-Azeri summit at Rambouillet–France.

"Nobody can frighten us with the prospect of war," said Levon Mkrtchian of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation.

Both Kocharian and other Armenian officials say they sill believe that the conflicting parties may take advantage of the opportunity created last year to settle the conflict.

"There are still possibilities of getting closer to the conflict’s resolution through negotiation," said Mher Shahgeldian–an Orinats Yerkir leader who heads the Armenian parliament’s committee on defense and security.

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