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Armenia: Nagorno-Karabakh Leader Is New Prime Minister

Yerevan, 20 March 1997 (RFE/RL) - Armenia's President Levon Ter-Petrosyan today appointed Robert Kocharyan as the country's new prime minister. Kocharyan is the separatist leader of the mostly ethnic-Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh in neighboring Azerbaijan.

Earlier today, Kocharyan's press secretary quoted Ter-Petrosyan as saying that such an appointment would serve the economic and security interests of both Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh.

Kocharyan, 43, has been the elected president of the separatist enclave's self-declared government since 1996 and is a firm supporter of Karabakh independence from Baku.

There was no immediate reaction to his appointment from Azerbaijan.

Armenian separatists in Karabakh fought a war for independence from Baku from 1988 to 1994, during which large parts of Azerbaijan outside the enclave were also seized. A ceasefire is in effect but there has been no political solution.