YEREVAN (RFE/RL)–The ruling Republican Party of Armenia made clear on Friday that it will block an opposition bill obliging Armenia to formally recognize the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic as an independent state if is put to a vote in parliament.
The National Assembly debated and was due to vote on the bill, drafted by the opposition Heritage Party, on Tuesday. The party’s leader, Raffi Hovannisian, postponed the vote until the end of this month after consultations with speaker Hovik Abrahamian and other leaders of the parliament’s pro-government majority.
It is not yet clear whether Zharangutyun will go ahead with the vote when the parliament convenes for its next plenary session scheduled for October 25-29. Hovannisian indicated he could again delay it in the hope of mustering greater political support for the initiative.
“If the bill is put to a vote and if there are no radical changes in the Karabakh negotiating process in the next 15 days, the Republican Party will vote against it,” a senior Republican lawmaker, Artak Zakarian, told a news conference.
The Republican Party and its coalition partners, which enjoy a comfortable majority in the parliament, say Karabakh’s recognition by Yerevan would be counterproductive as long as the international community is trying to broker a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Azerbaijan. They also argue that Armenia already has very close political, military and economic links with the disputed territory.
Zakarian said international recognition of Karabakh’s secession from Azerbaijan remains a top priority of his government. He said the government’s immediate objective is to make Karabakh’s ethnic Armenian leadership “a full-fledged party” to the ongoing peace talks with Azerbaijan mediated by the United States, Russia and France.
During the discussion of the bill in parliament earlier this week, the parliamentary faction of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation announced plans to support the proposed measure if it’s put to a vote.
Last month, the chairman of the parliament’s committee on foreign relations Armen Rustamian, who is the chairman of the ARF Supreme Council of Armenia, proposed the adoption of a declaration of a strategic alliance between Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic. Rustamian had argued that such a declaration would have aligned the political activities of Armenia and Karabakh, while, at the same time, would not have disturbed the negotiations process as feared by official Yerevan.