Armenian prime minister hints Armenia may not send troops to Iraq as pledged

Associated Press
Oct 16 2004

YEREVAN, Armenia (AP) Armenia's prime minister suggested Friday the
Caucasus country might not send troops to Iraq, saying conditions
there have changed since they were promised.

Prime Minister Andranik Markarian stressed that it was up to the
Constitutional Court and the parliament to make the decision on sending
the troops even though Armenia's president pledged the troops during
a visit to Poland last month.

The 50 troops Armenia is considering sending bomb disposal experts,
doctors and transport teams would work under Polish command in Iraq.
Poland commands a multinational security force in central Iraq of
about 6,000 troops, including more than 2,400 Polish soldiers.

''Let's not forget that ... there have been certain changes from the
conditions under which we gave preliminary approval,'' Makarian said,


Armenia, a former Soviet republic has sought to portray the decision to
send troops to Iraq as a way to boost ties with Europe, but critics
worry that it will endanger the 25,000-person Armenian community
living in Iraq.

''We also have concerns on this count. It's possible that as a result
Armenia could become of the targets of terrorists,'' Markarian said.

Of the 12 former Soviet republics in the Commonwealth of Independent
States, four Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Georgia have sent
troops to Iraq. The Commonwealth is a loose successor to the Soviet
Union.