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Armenian Foreign Minister Under Fire Over Turkey Policy

Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian
YEREVAN -- Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian has defended the government's Turkey policy against sharp criticism at special public hearings, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

The hearings -- held in the Armenian parliament on October 1 and featuring politicians, historians, and experts -- were part of "internal political consultations" agreed to by the Armenian and Turkish governments.

Nalbandian rejected claims that the government accepted long-standing Turkish preconditions for the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries and the reopening of their border.

He added that "no doubt was cast on the fact of the Armenian genocide" and there is no connection between the agreements and the Nagorno-Karabakh negotiating process. The opposition Dashnaktsutyun (Armenian Revolutionary Federation) and Zharangutyun (Heritage) parties reaffirmed their strong rejection of the bilateral agreements.

Dashnaktsutyun leader Armen Rustamian criticized the government for putting too much importance on open borders for the country's economic development.

Opposition parties also objected the creation of a Turkish-Armenian "subcommission" of historians to look into the World War I-era mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire.

Nalbandian said the commission's aim is not to determine if the Armenian massacres constituted genocide, but to serve as a forum for Turkish-Armenian discussions on "numerous issues coming from the past."

The ruling Republican Party of Armenia and its two junior coalition partners -- which together control the vast majority of parliament seats -- reaffirmed their full support for the agreements in a further sign that their ratification by the National Assembly is a forgone conclusion.