Karabakh Recognition Bill Again Discussed Amid Fresh Peace Talks

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–Armenian Parliament Speaker Hovik Abrahamian has confirmed that a bill obliging Armenia to recognize the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic’s independence will be put to a vote in parliament this week unless its opposition proponents agree to postpone it before that.

If held, the vote will come amid a fresh round of talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan around the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict scheduled for October 27.

At a press briefing on Tuesday Abrahamian reiterated the position of Armenia’s political majority that such a move was premature while the search for peace in Karabakh continued through negotiations.

Armenia has not formally recognized Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent state. The Armenian authorities that recognizing Karabakh’s independence is potentially harmful to the ongoing internationally mediated talks with Azerbaijan.

Earlier this month the country’s legislature was due to vote on a Karabakh recognition bill drafted by the opposition Heritage party. But the party’s leader, Raffi Hovannisian, postponed the vote until the end of October after consultations with speaker Abrahamian and other leaders of the parliament’s pro-government majority.

Under the current procedure, the Heritage-drafted bill might be put to a vote as soon as October 27 or 28 unless the party decided to postpone the vote again.

Meanwhile, the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan, Serzh Sarkisian and Ilham Aliyev, are meeting in Russian’s southern city of Astrakhan on Wednesday to discuss Karabakh. The meeting will be hosted by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

It is not yet clear what particular aspect of the currently faltering peace process will be on the agenda of the talks as the sides have released very few details ahead of their meeting.

“If after the meeting the president suggests that we should recognize Karabakh’s independence, we will gladly do that,” said Abrahamian, a senior member of President Sarkisian’s ruling Republican Party of Armenia, responding to a media question as to whether decisions on the Karabakh recognition bill could depend on the outcome of the Astrakhan meeting.

Earlier this month, the Republican Party made it clear it would block the bill if it reached the vote in parliament.

The leaders of all parliamentary factions are expected to hold discussions on the “vote” issue on Wednesday.

Zharangutyun earlier indicated it would be ready to postpone the vote if the issue was put on the parliament’s “big agenda”. Its parliamentary leader Stepan Safarian told RFE/RL’s Armenian service that the bill will be put to a vote “unless a compromise is found.”


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