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Armenia: New President Is Sworn In

Yerevan, 9 April 1998 (RFE/RL) -- Robert Kocharian was formally sworn in as Armenia's new president today and pledged in his inaugural address to press the country's democratization, economic recovery and self-determination for the disputed enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Kocharian took the oath of office at a solemn ceremony in Yerevan Opera house by swearing on a 7th century bible and the constitution before being blessed by the head of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Garegin I. Hundreds of dignitaries and diplomats as well as former president Levon Ter-Petrosyan, who resigned in February, attended.

Kocharian, who won praise from the West for fighting corruption and backing radical economic reforms during his year as prime minister, promised to rebuild Armenia's industrial sector and take steps to promote jobs, investment, and to help the impoverished.

But he stuck to a hard line on Karabakh, an enclave which is in Azerbaijan but populated mainly by Armenians. Kocharian called again today for Karabakh's right to self-determination to be recognized. He said "historic justice" should prevail in settling the conflict.

Reports say that Armenia's former communist leader Karen Demirchian, who lost the presidential runoff race last month, was not present at today's inauguration.