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Armenia Rules Out Major UN Role In Karabakh Talks

YEREVAN -- Armenian Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian has ruled out a major role for the United Nations in efforts to end the dispute over the breakaway Azerbaijani region of Nagorno-Karabakh even after Azerbaijan became a member of the world body's Security Council, RFE/RL's Armenian Service reports.

Nalbandian argued on November 3 that the United States, Russia, and France continue to share Armenia's view that the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe's Minsk Group, which is co-headed by those three countries, must remain the key international body mediating Armenian-Azerbaijani peace talks over Karabakh.

"The three co-chair countries and permanent members of the Security Council -- the United Nations, France, and Russia -- have repeatedly stated that the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict must be solved within the framework of the Minsk Group and not moved to other structures," he told Armenian lawmakers.

"So I think there is no need to get emotional because of statements coming from Azerbaijan," he said during parliamentary discussions on Armenia's state budget for next year.

Nalbandian referred to Azerbaijani leaders' reported plans to use their two-year membership in the Security Council to attain a solution to the Karabakh conflict that favors Baku.

Opposition politicians and some analysts in Yerevan have expressed serious concern over this. They have also criticized the Armenian government for failing to scuttle Azerbaijan's election to the Security Council last week.

Nalbandian dismissed these reactions as too "emotional." He said Yerevan is not troubled by the Azerbaijani seat on the council and will carry on with its Karabakh policy without "nervous convulsions."

Armen Rustamian, the chairman of the parliamentary committee on foreign relations and a leader of the opposition Armenian Revolutionary Federation, rejected Nalbandian's comments.

"I absolutely don't share the view that we must not react emotionally to Azerbaijan's becoming a nonpermanent member of the Security Council," Rustamian told journalists. "That is not an adequate response to the situation."

But Rustamian did not challenge Nalbandian when the latter addressed members of his and other standing committees of the National Assembly.

Capitalizing on strong support from many other predominantly Muslim nations, Azerbaijan already pushed through the UN General Assembly in 2008 a nonbinding resolution that demanded an "immediate, complete, and unconditional withdrawal of Armenian forces from occupied Azerbaijani lands."

The Muslim world's overwhelmingly pro-Azerbaijani stance is a key reason for Armenia's strong opposition to any UN involvement in the Karabakh peace process.