On the third leg of his tour, Solana held talks with the Armenian leaders yesterday in Yerevan. The atmosphere was distinctly cooler and the reports sparser than was the case during Solana’s visits to Moldova and Georgia (see Monitor, February 12, and item above). Foreign Minister Aleksandr Arzumanian told a concluding briefing that "Armenia and Russia are strategic partners, and this partnership will be maintained," and that "NATO’s eastward enlargement affects vital interests of Russia, whose leadership shows legitimate concerns."
In a newspaper interview also published yesterday, First Deputy Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian argued that NATO’s enlargement in Central Europe ought not to proceed at the expense of Russia’s interests. (Interfax, February 12; Itar-Tass, February 13) The reasons for Yerevan’s apparent restraint include, first, its concern over diminishing Russian support on the Karabakh problem and, second, the misperception of Armenia’s elite that NATO member Turkey represents a potential danger to Armenia. Yerevan also needs good relations with the anti-Western government of Iran because of Azerbaijan’s and Turkey’s closure of overland transport routes in connection with the Karabakh conflict.
Kazakstani Paper Reports Uighur Riots in Xinjiang.