ARMENIA SEEKS ASSURANCES THAT TURKEY WONT EXPLOIT PACE KARABAKH PANEL

Asbarez
Friday, May 14th, 2010

YEREVAN (RFE/RL)-Armenia will not back renewed discussions on the
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict at the Council of Europe Parliamentary
Assembly (PACE), championed by a Turkish politician, until it clarifies
their details and purpose, a senior lawmaker said on Friday.

Shortly after being elected as president of the Strasbourg-based
assembly in January, Mevlut Cavusoglu sought to revive and lead a
PACE subcommittee tasked with facilitating a peaceful resolution of
the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. He has argued that the existence of
such a body is envisaged by a 2005 PACE resolution.

Armenia's leading pro-government and opposition forces are concerned
that the subcommittee will not be impartial in its work because of
the PACE chief's nationality. They argue that Turkey continues to lend
strong and unconditional support to Azerbaijan and cite pro-Azerbaijani
statements made by Cavusoglu in the past. The latter dismissed these
concerns during a two-day visit to Yerevan this week.

According to David Harutiunian, a senior pro-government parliamentarian
heading the Armenian parliamentary delegation at the PACE, Armenian,
Azerbaijani and PACE officials are currently discussing the precise
mission of the subcommittee in the question.

"The purpose of the consultations is to try to understand what we
are going to do, how we can assist in the process [of the conflict's
resolution] and what we should do," Harutiunian told RFE/RL's Armenian
service. The subcommittee will not resume its work, frozen in 2008,
until those consultations are over, he said.

Harutiunian, who also chairs the Armenian parliament's committee on
state and legal affairs, added that the Armenian side is trying to
clarify the goals of the PACE panel and practical modalities of its
work. "And until there is agreement on this issue, I think we will
not get results," he said.

Speaking at a news conference in Yerevan on Thursday, Cavusoglu
insisted that the decision to kick-start PACE discussions on the
Armenian-Azerbaijani dispute was taken by other Council of Europe
officials months before his election. The PACE president, who a member
of Turkey's governing Justice and Development Party, promised to take
the Armenian concerns into consideration even if he does not agree
with them.