KOCHARIAN DISTANCES HIMSELF FROM TER-PETROSIAN.
Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 232
Armenian prime minister Robert Kocharian took his differences with President Levon Ter-Petrosian beyond the water’s edge during a five-day official visit to France (which concludes today). Kocharian repeatedly expressed disagreement with Ter-Petrosian’s renunciation of the goal of de facto complete independence for Karabakh and his acceptance of the stage-by-stage settlement proposed by OSCE mediators. Kocharian described those concessions as "dangerous" to Karabakh and also as politically unacceptable. As a Karabakh native and President of that unrecognized republic until last February, Kocharian described his own stance as seeking to harmonize Yerevan’s and Karabakh’s respective interests, which — he said — are not identical.
Kocharian also called for lifting the ban on the Armenian Revolutionary Federation’s (Dashnaksutiun) activities in Armenia and for an immediate cessation of the trials of the "Dro" group and the "group of 31" in Yerevan. Those measures were initiated by Ter-Petrosian and his administration. The main defendants are prominent veterans of the Karabakh war. Dashnaksutiun has continued to operate freely in Karabakh during Kocharian’s presidency and since.
Kocharian’s talks with French president Jacques Chirac produced oblique French admonitions that an intransigent stance on Karabakh may lead to Armenia’s "international isolation." Kocharian described his meeting with Chirac as "open and frank" — formulae that usually imply disagreement. (AFP, Liberation, Noyan-Tapan, Armenpress, December 8-11)
Earlier this year, France became a cochairman — along with Russia and the U.S. — of the OSCE’s mediating group on the Karabakh conflict. Historical tradition and the existence of a significant Armenian lobby in France had generated expectations that Paris would encourage Armenian firmness on Karabakh. Those expectations have not been borne out.
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