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Armenian Party Seeks To Criminalize Talk Of Karabakh Concessions

YEREVAN -- The Armenian Revolutionary Federation (Dashnaktsutyun) is supporting calls to prosecute anyone in Nagorno-Karabakh who publicly advocates the return of Azerbaijani territories that are now controlled by Karabakh Armenians, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Armen Sarkisian, the only member of the Nagorno-Karabakh parliament who is affiliated with Dashnaktsutyun, made the appeal to officials of the unrecognized republic last week.

Sarkisian said during a parliament session in Stepanakert that "those who call into question our territorial integrity under the guise of mutual concessions” of settlement with Azerbaijan must be prosecuted, because such comments would be not a "manifestation of democracy or pluralism but an unconstitutional step."

His demand is thought to reflect the opinion of Dashnaktsutyun's branch in Nagorno-Karabakh and has been welcomed by the party in Armenia.

The return of virtually all Armenian-occupied territories surrounding the disputed enclave of Karabakh is a key element in international mediators' current plans to resolve the dispute over the territory.

In return, the Karabakh Armenians would apparently have a chance to legitimize their secession from Azerbaijan in a referendum of self-determination.

Armenia and its Karabakh-born president, Serzh Sarkisian, have reportedly signaled a general acceptance of this formula. The Nagorno-Karabakh leadership, on the other hand, makes no secret of its disagreement with such a compromise.