ARF Bureau Member Says Recognition of Karabagh Should Be on Agenda

YEREVAN (Combined Sources) – Armenian Revolutionary Federation (ARF) Bureau member and Parliament Vice Speaker Vahan Hovannisian spoke Thursday about the Karabagh conflict–Armenia-Russia relations–and domestic political developmen’s.

Speaking about Yerevan’s position on the Karabagh conflict settlement–Hovannisian said that Yerevan is not going to make more concessions other than those already spelled out for years.

"The statemen’s Armenia makes to succeed in talks and show the country in a better light should not be confused with the final goal," Hovannisian said. "If Azerbaijan admits even once it recognizes the self-determination right of Nagorno Karabagh–it would be hard for it to take its words back later."

"Today–the negotiations with Azerbaijan should not be the first issue on the agenda. Instead–the first item on the agenda should be the recognition of Karabagh–in any form–by the international community. This would make Azerbaijan go for more compromise."

He added that presently not only the ARF but also state officials realize this.

Referring to the latest gas deals with Russia–Hovannisian said that the political side of the deal was "really very obnoxious," but in terms of economics–the deal was the best solution currently possible.

Speaking of the prospects of the political developmen’s and the possible outcome of the parliamentary election due next year–Hovannisian said he was sure the ARF will be represented in Parliament.

He predicted that next year’s parliamentary election in Armenia will be "unusually tense," because they will take place less than a year before the next presidential election.

Those that are keen to succeed President Robert Kocharian in 2008 will spare no effort to win the 2007 vote–he said–adding that the ARF will likely field its own presidential candidate.

He warned that Armenia may suffer a setback in terms of its international image if these elections are not deemed democratic.

Therefore–he said–the president–the parliament–and the government must guarantee free and fair elections.

Hovannisian said his party stands prepared to fight against every form of election fraud. He said law-enforcers must make it clear that those who to try to rig the polls will not be forgiven.

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