Key West Talks
For the Resolution of the Karabakh Conflict

Background: Armenia
Date Released:
March 30, 2001
Source: U.S. Department of State

Following is the text of a fact sheet released in conjunction with peace talks on Nagorno-Karabakh between Presidents Heydar Aliyev of Azerbaijan and Robert Kocharian of Armenia that are scheduled to begin April 3 in Key West, Florida. The talks, which are sponsored by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), will be opened by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.

The Republic of Armenia declared independence from the Soviet Union on September 21, 1991. Slightly larger than the state of Maryland, Armenia's population was approximately 3.6 million in 1989 but most observers believe that large-scale emigration has led to a dramatic decline in that number today. Although there are no reliable figures, well over 1.5 million citizens have emigrated from Armenia since independence, leaving a population of under 2 million today. The population is homogeneous, with Armenians comprising about 95 percent, Russians 2 percent, and Kurds and others 3 percent. The official state language is Armenian, with Russian a second language for about 40 percent of the population. Approximately 91 percent of the population belongs to the Armenian Apostolic Church. Armenia has one of the highest literacy rates - 99 percent -in the region. The capital of Armenia is Yerevan.

Robert Kocharian has been the President of Armenia since March 1998. Andranik Markarian is the Prime Minister, Vartan Oskanian the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Serge Sargsian the Minister of Defense. Over the past year, the Armenian government and populace have worked to recover from the severe political and social crisis it suffered in October 1999 when gunmen invaded the Armenian Parliament and assassinated the Prime Minister and Speaker of Parliament, as well as six other officials.

The United States and Armenia share close and friendly relations. The U.S. recognized the independence of Armenia on December 25, 1991, and opened an embassy in Yerevan in February 1992. Relations between the two countries are firmly grounded in our shared assessment of the importance of peace, stability and economic development in the Caucasus region. The FREEDOM Support Act (FSA), enacted in October 1992, has been the cornerstone of U.S. efforts to assist the new independent states of the former Soviet Union during their difficult transition to democracy and a market economy. Under the FSA, the U.S. to date has provided approximately $734 million in humanitarian and developmental assistance to Armenia. We also have established the U.S.-Armenia Task Force on Economic Cooperation - which met in Armenia in March - and hold annual bilateral security meetings. In addition, the interest and support of more than one million Armenian-Americans adds a vital human element to U.S.-Armenian relations.

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