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Armenia Seeks PACE Clarifications On Nagorno-Karabakh Panel

Armenian President Serzh Sarkissian meets PACE President Mevlut Cavusoglu in Yerevan on May 12.
Armenian President Serzh Sarkissian meets PACE President Mevlut Cavusoglu in Yerevan on May 12.
YEREVAN -- A top Armenian lawmaker says Yerevan will not agree to renewed discussions on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict at the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) until it clarifies the talk's purpose, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

The talks have been championed by Mevlut Cavusoglu, a Turkish politician elected president of the Strasbourg-based assembly in January.

Cavusoglu sought to revive and lead a PACE subcommittee tasked with facilitating a peaceful resolution of the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. He has argued that the existence of such a body is envisaged by a 2005 PACE resolution.

Armenia's leading pro-government and opposition forces are concerned that the subcommittee will not be impartial in its work because of the PACE chief's nationality.

They argue that Turkey continues to lend strong and unconditional support to Azerbaijan and cite pro-Azerbaijani statements made by Cavusoglu in the past.

Cavusoglu dismissed these concerns during a two-day visit to Yerevan this week.

David Harutiunian, a senior pro-government legislator heading the Armenian parliamentary delegation at PACE, said Armenian, Azerbaijani, and PACE officials are currently discussing the precise mission of the subcommittee in question.

"The purpose of the consultations is to try to understand what we are going to do, how we can assist in the process [of the conflict's resolution] and what we should do," Harutiunian told RFE/RL. He said the subcommittee will not resume its work -- which was frozen in 2008 -- until those consultations are over.

Harutiunian, who also chairs the Armenian parliament's State and Legal Affairs Committee, added that the Armenian side is trying to clarify the goals of the PACE panel and practical modalities of its work.

Cavusoglu said at a news conference in Yerevan on May 13 that the decision to restart PACE discussions on the Armenian-Azerbaijani dispute was taken by other Council of Europe officials months before his election.

A member of Turkey's governing Justice and Development Party, Cavusoglu promised to take the Armenian concerns into consideration even if he does not agree with them.

Armenians took control of most of the Azerbaijani region of Nagorno-Karabakh and surrounding territory after a war between Armenian and Azerbaijani forces ended in 1994.