March 2 2008

HELSINKI, March 2 (Xinhua) -- The Organization on Security and
Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) sent a special envoy to Armenia on
Sunday to try to resolve the political crisis there, Finland's Foreign
Ministry said.

"I have sent my special envoy to try to bring both sides to the
negotiating table and to find a way out of this crisis through
political dialogue," said Finnish Foreign Minister Ilkka Kanerva,
whose country currently holds the OSCE'S rotating chairmanship,
in a statement.

Heikki Talvitie, a veteran diplomat with long experience in the
region, will hold separate talks with Armenian outgoing president
Robert Kocharian, outgoing prime minister, president-elect Serzh
Sargsyan and opposition leaders, said the statement.

"The OSCE considers dialogue central to stability, and stability is
vital in the South Caucasus. Everything should be done to avoid further
casualties and any further escalation of tension," said Kanerva.

Kanerva condemned the use of force against peaceful demonstrators in
the capital city Yerevan Saturday, said the statement.

Armenian opposition supporters have been rallying in Yerevan to
protest the outcome of the Feb. 19 presidential election, in which
Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan won with 52.8 percent of the vote.

Opposition leader Levon Ter-Petrosyan, who got 21.5 percent of
the vote, claimed the vote was rigged and demanded a rerun of the

According to local media reports, police said eight people had been
killed in the overnight conflict.

The Armenian parliament approved a presidential decree on Sunday
introducing a 20-day state of emergency in the Caucasus nation after
the clash between police and opposition protesters.