Armenian parliamentary speaker announces he will resign

The speaker of Armenia's parliament said Friday he would resign, a day after his liberal party decided to leave the three-party governing coalition.

Artur Bagdasarian, the head of the Orinats Yerkir (Country Ruled by Law) party and parliamentary speaker, said he would present his resignation to the legislature next week.

"From now on, the party will follow its own course," he said.

The party quit the coalition because it is dissatisfied by the government's foreign and domestic policies, and sees that promised democratic reforms have gotten nowhere, Bagdasarian said.

"We shouldn't create contradictions between the U.S., Europe and Russia," he said.

Orinats Yerkir has been part of the governing coalition since 2003 when it teamed up with the Republican Party and Dashnak-Tsutyun. It had 20 seats in the 131-seat parliament, but Bagdasarian said nine of the lawmakers had quit the party in the past two weeks.

Bagdasarian triggered a political scandal last month when he reportedly told a German newspaper that Armenia's future lies with the European Union and NATO, and that Russia should not block its Westward path _ a statement that would vex Russia, which has a military base in the small Caucasus Mountains nation.

Armenian President Robert Kocharian quickly disavowed the speaker's statement, saying that the Caucasus nation doesn't have plans to join NATO, reports the AP.

I.L.