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Armenia

Yearbook 1999

Armenia. According to Countryaah official website, the Armenian nation was shocked this fall by the assassination of Prime Minister Vazgen Sarkisian, Parliament Speaker Karen Demirtjian and six other leading politicians. On October 27, five armed men stormed into Parliament in the capital Yerevan and opened fire while the Prime Minister spoke. The assailants took the hostage, but gave up after President Robert Kotjarjan promised that their leaders would speak through television. He said at his appearance that he and the other assailants wanted to wake the nation and to make the residents react to the economic mismanagement in the country.

1999 Armenia

However, there were speculations that the attack was a reaction to the fact that Armenia seemed close to a compromise with neighboring Azerbaijan over the Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh in Azerbaijan. Armenia was said to be prepared to give up some land occupied in the war against Azerbaijan in the early 1990s if Armenians in the enclave could exchange security guarantees. At the end of the year, one of President Kotjarjan's chief advisers was arrested on suspicion of involvement in the act.

The murdered Prime Minister's brother Aram Sarkisian was appointed by the president in November as new head of government. Vazgen Sarkisian had held his post for almost five months after the parliamentary elections held in May. The election was won by the newly formed center-left alliance Mjasnutiun (Unity) with just over 41% of the vote. The alliance included the Armenian Republican Party, for which Sarkisian was leader, and the Armenian People's Party. In second place came the Armenian Communist Party and then Nationalist Dashnak. According to international observers, there were irregularities in the elections.

In November, President Kotjarjan announced a new foreign policy line by proposing, together with Azerbaijan, a security pact in the southern Caucasus comprising Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, the Russian Federation and the United States. The pact would include involve withdrawal of all foreign troops, including the Russian, from the area. So far, Armenia has been an ally of the Russian Federation in the region, and over 4,000 Russian soldiers are in Armenia. The proposal also brought about a historical re-thinking by the pact linking Armenia with the traditional enemies Turkey and Azerbaijan. Due to the conflict around Nagorno-Karabakh, these two neighboring countries are carrying out a trade boycott against Armenia, which has had severe consequences for the Armenian economy.

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