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Sarkisian Discusses Karabakh At PACE Session


Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian at the Council of Europe on October 2
STRASBOURG -- Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian has urged the Council of Europe to initiate direct contacts with authorities in Azerbaijan's breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region to help settle the protracted conflict.

During an October 2 speech to the body's Parliamentary Assembly, Sarkisian said the Council of Europe could start direct communications with Nagorno-Karabakh, considering the organization has acted similarly in other conflict zones.

Azerbaijan seeks to block any direct ties between the region and the outside world.

Sarkisian also criticized his Azeri counterpart, Ilham Aliyev, over the issue, claiming Baku continues to threaten Armenia with war and to boast about its disproportionate increases in military spending.

Nagorno-Karabakh is an Azerbaijani region populated almost entirely by ethnic Armenians that was the site of a 1988-94 war.

On last month's decision by Yerevan to opt for a Russian-led Customs Union, Sarkisian said he had acted under no pressure from Moscow and that he still hopes to sign an Association Agreement with the EU, minus its trade parts.
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