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On February 4, 1998, Levon Ter-Petrosian, the first president of the new independent Armenia, held his resignation speech to the nation: "The well known body of power demands my resignation. Bearing in mind that fulfilment of president's constitutional authorities during the prevailing circumstances is equal with the risk of destabilising the country, I have chosen to hand in my resignation. I refrain from commenting or judging the situation in order to not worsen it further. I just believe that it is necessary to point out that the speculations over the problem of Artsakh [Nagorno Karabakh] were only one reason for the power crisis. The problem is much deeper and is connected to the fundamental principles concerning the state and the alternative between peace and war. The time will show who did what for Artsakh and who that really sold it out. Nothing special has happened. It is simply so that the peace and decency party has lost." 200

With the resignation of Levon Ter-Petrosian, Prime Minster Robert Kocharian, the former president of Karabakh before he was appointed as the prime minister of Armenia, took over the authorities of the president and new elections were announced. On March 30, 1998, Robert Kocharian was elected as the second president of Armenia. Almost immediately the new government began to take a harder position in the Karabakh conflict.

While Ter-Petrosian had linked the future stability of Armenia and its economical development with an agreement over the Karabakh conflict, Kocharian believed that Armenia could develop politically and economically without giving up anything at all in the Karabakh issue. His administration aimed its forces on fighting the corruption in Armenia, which he argued was the failure of the former regime. Instead of striving for an improvement of the relations with Turkey, Kocharian relied more on the Armenian Diaspora and for the first time since the genocide, the question about a recognition of the genocide was heard from the rostrum of UN.

Renewed Attention to the Armenian Genocide

Thus the 1990s heralded a renewed focus on the Armenian Genocide, appearing more often on the agenda of the EU, USA and European countries, though the western powers had repressed and intentionally chosen to ignore the issue for more than 80 years.

The Kocharian administration's active drive for international recognition of the Armenian Genocide was in sharp contrast to the Ter-Petrosian policy. The old government avoided the question of the genocide at all costs, in the hope of being able to establish normal relations with Turkey which would, it was anticipated, lead to the lift of the Turkish blockade against Armenia.

Until 1998, only a few countries and organisations, including Uruguay (1965), Cyprus (1982), the European Parliament (June 18, 1987), Argentina (1993) and Russia (1995), had officially recognised the Armenian Genocide, while the majority of the major Western powers avoided the issue in deference to their economic and strategic relations with Turkey. 2 The USA, in particular, had refused to take any steps towards recognition over the years, and the majority of other countries, especially the closest allies of the USA, appeared to be following the American lead..

200) Armenpress News Agency, Statement by President of the Republic of Armenia Levon Ter-Petrosian, February 4, 1998

2) Armenian National Institute, International Affirmation, Resolutions and Declarations,