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Armenia Raps EU Over Karabakh Resolution

YEREVAN -- Armenia has criticized the European Parliament for demanding the "withdrawal of Armenian forces from all occupied territories of Azerbaijan" in its latest resolution on the South Caucasus, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian said on May 21 that the demand contradicts international mediators' existing plan to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, which has been endorsed by the European Union.

The nonbinding resolution adopted by the EU legislature on May 20 does not specify whether the Armenian side should pull out of only Azerbaijani districts surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh or the disputed Karabakh region as well. It only rejects the notion that "Nagorno-Karabakh includes all occupied Azerbaijani lands surrounding Nagorno-Karabakh."

Nor does the resolution, drafted by Bulgarian Socialist lawmaker Evgeni Kirilov, explain whether the Armenian troop pullout should start immediately and unconditionally or after the signing of a comprehensive Armenian-Azerbaijani agreement. The latter condition is a key element of the
so-called Madrid principles of settling the conflict that have been proposed by the U.S., Russian, and French mediators co-chairing the OSCE Minsk Group.

Nalbandian said that the resolution demand is at odds with both those principles and a joint statement on Karabakh that was made by the presidents of the three mediating powers in July.

"There is an obvious confusion in the formulations, and I think one of the reasons for that is that the author of the resolution has never been in Karabakh and the [broader] region, and did not consult with representatives of France, an EU member state and OSCE Minsk Group co-chair, when drawing up his report," he told a news conference.

The European Parliament did make it clear that it supports the Madrid document and the mediators' efforts to have it accepted by the conflicting parties. The proposed framework accord calls for the liberation of virtually all Armenian-controlled territories around Karabakh in return for a future referendum on self-determination in the disputed territory itself.