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Armenian Bill To Recognize Nagorno-Karabakh Criticized

(RFE/RL) August 28, 2007(RFE/RL) -- The speaker of Armenia's parliament has criticized a bill calling for the official recognition of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.

The draft legislation was authored by Raffi Hovannisian, a former foreign minister who heads the opposition Zharangutyun (Heritage) party.

It consists of two paragraphs -- that Armenia recognizes the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, and that the law enters into force once it's officially published.

Parliament speaker Tigran Torosian, who has approved the bill for submission to parliamentary committees, told RFE/RL's Armenian Service today that the bill is misguided.

"The issue of recognizing the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic should not be connected to this bill," he said. "The recognition of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic by the Republic of Armenia should have a serious foundation. It is not right when people who are not informed about the details and modality of the process of negotiations for obvious reasons introduce bills like this one to the parliament."

A spokesman for Azerbaijan's Foreign Ministry, Khazar Ibrahim, criticized the initiative, saying today that Armenia's political opposition should "recognize their mistakes" instead of "recognizing Azerbaijan's territory as their own."

Nagorno-Karabakh is enclave predominantly populated by ethnic Armenians that that declared its independence from Azerbaijan in 1991. The move led to a bloody war between Armenia and Azerbaijan that ended when Russian brokered a cease-fire in 1994.

To this day the conflict remains "frozen," and no country, including Armenia, recognizes the independence of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The new bill will be distributed to committees for consideration before a reading by the National Assembly, which begins its fall session on September 10.

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Ethnic Armenians displaced by fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh in the 1980s (Photolur)

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