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Armenia: New Prime Minister Promotes Reform

Yerevan, 25 March 1997 (RFE/RL) - Armenia's new Prime Minister Robert Kocharyan today outlined his program on Armenia's economy, Karabakh negotiations and building relations with opposition parties. Until assuming his new post last week, Kocharyan was president of the self-proclaimed republic of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Kocharyan said he will pursue economic reform, but with what he called "strict control on the implementation of reforms." There have been charges of widespread corruption, especially in Armenia's privatization campaign. Kocharyan pledged to pursue democratization, working with all parties, including opposition parties.

Kocharyan rejected charges his appointment will undermine the Karabakh peace efforts, saying as Armenia's Prime Minister, he will use his influence to promote direct contacts between Baku and Stepanakert. Azerbaijan has said it will accept representatives of Nagorno-Karabakh at talks, if Stepanakert first recognizes Azerbaijan's sovereignty over the separatist region.