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Azerbaijan: Armenian Minister's Appointment Setback For Karabakh Peace

Baku, 21 March 1997 (RFE/RL) -- A top Azerbaijani official views yesterday's appointment of Robert Kocharyan as Armenia's new prime minister as a setback to the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process.

Deputy Foreign Minister Araz Azimov told Interfax the naming of Kocharyan as prime minister is further proof of Erevan's intention to bolster Armenia's "annexation" of the ethnic Armenian enclave in Azerbaijan.

Azimov said on accepting the position, Kocharyan should renounce his Azerbaijani citizenship and step down as president of the ethnic Armenian community in Nagorno-Karabakh.

If those two conditions were not met, Azimov said the posting would be seen as a provocation to Azerbaijan and the world community.

Since 1996 Kocharyan has been the elected president of the ethnic-Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh enclave in Azerbaijan, and insists on its independence from Baku.

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.