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DATE=11/10/1999 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT TITLE=ARMENIAN AFTERMATH NUMBER=5-44744 BYLINE=ALLISON LYNCH DATELINE=NEW YORK CONTENT= VOICED BY: Barbara Schoetzau INTRO: It has been two weeks since the Armenian Prime Minister and Speaker of Parliament were assassinated (10/27) in Yerevan. V-O-A's Allison Lynch spoke in New York with two former Armenian officials about the current situation in their country and prepared this report. TEXT: The deaths of eight Armenian politicians, including Prime Minister Vazgen Sarkisian and Speaker of Parliament Karen Demirchian, have stunned and saddened the country. The crisis is seen by analysts as a test of the resilience of the young state's political institutions. And so far, they are withstanding the shock, according to Arman Grigorian, a policy adviser in the administration of former President Ter-Petrosian. Mr. Grigorian is currently teaching at Rutgers University in the state of New Jersey. /// FIRST GRIGORIAN ACTUALITY /// A huge political vacuum was created in Armenia. And my main fear was that filling that vacuum would lead to a lot of undesirable and dangerous clashes. So far, it is quite reassuring to see that the political elites and institutions in the country have matured enough for everybody to be committed to constitutional and legal means of overcoming the political crisis. It is too soon to be absolutely sure about that, but so far that's where the trend points. /// END ACTUALITY /// Another former Armenian official, Levon Zourabian, who served as press secretary and assistant to former president Ter-Petrosian, believes democratic institutions in Armenia may emerge strengthened after the loss of the two leaders. /// FIRST ZOURABIAN ACTUALITY /// They were elected overwhelmingly just four months ago. And political stability in the country was based on these personalities. Whoever did this act calculated that this (will be) a blow to political stability in Armenia. If the constitution survives and if institutions survive, that will only strengthen Armenian statehood. /// END ACTUALITY /// Former Armenian policy adviser Grigorian adds that mourning in Armenia over the leaders' deaths has transcended political affiliation. /// SECOND GRIGORIAN ACTUALITY /// This is actually the first time that most Armenians have been quite united in their views on something and most people are really outraged. /// END ACTUALITY /// Allegations of external involvement in the shootings have been published in the press, but Mr. Grigorian believes the sources of this violence are more likely domestic. /// THIRD GRIGORIAN ACTUALITY /// Some evidence has started to come out that points to a larger scheme. It is too soon to speculate. What can be said with sadness and certainty is that unfortunately there are politicians in Armenia who have been saying loudly and clearly since the country became independent that if they cannot affect government's policies through legal and constitutional means, they reserve the right to solve these issues violently. /// END ACTUALITY /// Despite Armenia's management of the crisis, experts say, the shooting could affect several critical issues on the government's agenda, such as negotiations over Nagorno-Karabakh, the contested enclave in Azerbaijan. While both sides seem close to consensus on the basic principles of an agreement, Mr. Grigorian says, an extra obstacle may have been inadvertently created. /// FOURTH GRIGORIAN ACTUALITY /// For momentous decisions, you obviously need very strong leadership that can take political risks, that can muster enough political courage. Vazgen Sarkisian's and Demirchian's removal might make it a little more difficult. /// END ACTUALITY /// According to Levon Zourabian, who is now at New York's Columbia University, the newly appointed leadership may face an additional challenge in the negotiations, which have been coordinated by the independent Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or O-S-C-E. /// SECOND ZOURABIAN ACTUALITY /// There is one thing that can really impede the peace solution, which is that some political forces in Azerbaijan or in the countries which are mediators of this O-S-C-E Minsk Group process can reconsider their approaches to the solution of Nagorno-Karabakh based on the weakening of Armenia. One thing that is very important is for all the parties involved to really apply all the efforts to maintain negotiations and the process to come to its conclusion. /// END ACTUALITY /// After eight years of turbulent independence, says Mr. Zourabian, Armenia's full political, social, and economic development will only be realized when the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is resolved. (Signed) NEB/AJL/LSF/TVM/gm 10-Nov-1999 17:15 PM EDT (10-Nov-1999 2215 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .

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