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Armenia: Short News Items

Yerevan, 22 August 1997 (RFE/RL) - Armenia's former prime minister Hrant Bagratyan says Armenia's international reputation has suffered in the wake of last year's disputed presidential elections. Bagratyan held a Yerevan news conference yesterday.

He predicted that this autumn will be "one of the most dramatic times" in Armenia's history, given anticipated concessions by the Armenian leadership over Nagorno-Karabakh. He said the present "tense" internal political situation precludes consolidation among political parties.

Bagratyan criticized his successor, Armen Sargssian, whom he claimed had undermined the achievements of Bagratyan's government during its three-year term, but praised current Prime Minister Robert Kocharyan, and said he hoped Kocharyan would continue vigorous economic reforms. Bagratyan is currently an advisor to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). He founded his own opposition party, Azatutyun, in April 1997.

Karabakh Presidential Election Update

Arkady Ghukasyan, foreign minister of the self-proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, says the region should aim for outright independence, according to a RFE/RL correspondent in Stepanakert.

Ghukasyan, the favorite among three registered candidates for the Karabakh presidential elections September 1, was addressing supporters in Stepanakert yesterday. He said that, if elected, he will seek international guarantees for Karabakh's security, in which Armenia should play a key role, together with mechanisms for their implementation. He also said that one of his priorities would be to strengthen the Karabakh armed forces.

Meanwhile, acting Karabakh president Leonard Petrossyan met yesterday with Germany's representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's (OSCE) Minsk Group, Frank Lambach. Petrossyan was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying Karabakh will never again be part of Azerbaijan.