YEREVAN -- Armenia's ruling Republican Party (HHK) says it will reject an opposition bill obliging Yerevan to formally recognize the breakaway Azerbaijani region of Nagorno-Karabakh as an independent state if it is voted on in parliament, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.
"If that bill is put to a vote and if there are no radical changes in the Karabakh negotiating process in the next 15 days, the Republican Party will vote against it," senior HHK lawmaker Artak Zakarian said at a news conference on October 8.
The HHK and its coalition partners, which enjoy a comfortable majority in the parliament, say Karabakh's recognition by Yerevan would be counterproductive as long as the international community is trying to broker a solution to the Armenian-Azerbaijani dispute.
They also argue that Armenia already has very close political, military, and economic links with the disputed territory, which has been controlled by ethnic Armenians since the end of the Nagorno-Karabakh war in 1994.
The National Assembly debated and was due to vote on the bill, drafted by the opposition Heritage (Zharangutyun) party on October 5. But Heritage party leader Raffi Hovannisian postponed the vote until the end of this month after consultations with speaker Hovik Abrahamian and other leaders of the parliament's pro-government majority.
It is not yet clear whether the Heritage party will go ahead with the vote when the parliament convenes for its next plenary session scheduled for October 25-29. Hovannisian indicated he could again delay it in the hope of mustering greater political support for the initiative.
Zakarian added that international recognition of Karabakh's secession from Azerbaijan remains a top priority of his government. He said the government's immediate objective is to make Karabakh's leadership "a full-fledged party" to the ongoing peace talks with Azerbaijan mediated by the United States, Russia, and France.