Armenia / Azerbaijan Conflict
Political pressure groups and leaders: self-proclaimed Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh Republic; Talysh independence movement; Sadval, Lezgin movement
/ Azerbaijan Conflict:
Armenia's leaders remain preoccupied by Armenia's nine-year old conflict with Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh enclave. Although a cease-fire has been in effect since May 1994, the sides have not made substantial progress toward a peaceful resolution. President Ter-Petrossian's latitude on the issue may be further constrained by his controversial reelection in September 1996. When supporters of the main opposition candidate stormed the parliament following the announcement of Ter-Petrossian's victory, MVD forces were called in to restore order. The subsequent political standoff between government and opposition supporters diminished in late 1996 as the government has gradually attempted reconciliation. Despite these political problems, the Armenian government has been pursuing its aggressive economic reform program, although implementation of its privatization program stalled in late 1996.
Azerbaijan continues to be plagued by an unresolved nine-year-old conflict with Armenian separatists over its Nagorno-Karabakh region. The Karabakh Armenians have declared independence and seized almost 20% of the country's territory, creating almost 1 million Azerbaijani refugees in the process. Both sides have generally observed a Russian-mediated cease-fire in place since May 1994, and support the OSCE-mediated peace process, now entering its fifth year. Nevertheless, Baku and Xankandi (Stepanakert, Nagorno-Karabakh region) remain far apart on most substantive issues from the placement and composition of a peacekeeping force to the enclave's ultimate political status, and prospects for a negotiated settlement remain dim
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