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ARMENIAN FOREIGN MINISTER WARNS AGAINST UN INVOLVEMENT IN PEACE TALKS. Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian warned on September 4 that any UN involvement in peace talks with Azerbaijan would effectively end negotiations, RFE/RL's Armenian Service and Arminfo reported. Oskanian was referring to a joint appeal issued last week by Azerbaijan, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine that called on the UN General Assembly to consider the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Oskanian is scheduled to meet with his Azerbaijani counterpart, Elmar Mammadyarov, sometime in the coming weeks in order to restart the stalled peace talks and prepare for a possible presidential summit (see "RFE/RL Newsline," September 1, 2006). Armenia has long opposed any UN involvement in the Karabakh peace process and has remained committed to maintaining the OSCE as the primary international body empowered to mediate the conflict. RG
BELARUSIAN PRESIDENT OBJECTS TO PAYING MORE FOR RUSSIAN GAS THAN GERMANY. President Alyaksandr Lukashenka told journalists in Pinsk, southern Belarus, on September 1 that Belarus will not buy Russian natural gas at a price higher than that Russia charges Germany, Belapan reported. "Russia is selling crude oil to us at a higher price than to Ukraine and has offered a gas price higher than for Germany," Lukashenka said. "We will never buy gas at a higher price than Germany. People [in Belarus] who stayed in the same trenches with Russians [during World War II] have not died yet." According to Lukashenka, Belarus has received offers to develop oil fields in other countries, including Venezuela. "If we carry out this project, we will sell oil there and earn money," he added. In May, Gazprom suggested that Belarus would have to pay $200 per 1,000 cubic meters of gas in 2007, up from the current $46.68. Belarusian economic expert Yaraslau Ramanchuk told "Novye izvestia" on September 4 that Lukashenka will be forced to accept a gas price of $135-$150 per 1,000 cubic meters in 2007. JM
UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT OPENS AUTUMN SESSION. The Verkhovna Rada on September 5 inaugurated its autumn session, Ukrainian media reported. Parliament speaker Oleksandr Moroz told lawmakers that their most urgent task during the session will include the adoption of bills on political opposition and on the Cabinet of Ministers. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Yanukovych told the parliament that his government will work toward achieving membership of the World Trade Organization (WTO) for Ukraine. "We are planning to join the WTO with no haste, but confidently, with transitional periods for our economic branches and an appropriate protection level for our domestic market," he added. JM
CRIMEAN TATARS LAUNCH TV CHANNEL. The first Tatar-language television station started broadcasting in Crimea on September 1, RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service reported. The station is based in Simferopol and currently covers some 80 percent of the peninsula's territory. "We broadcast in the Crimean Tatar, Ukrainian, and Russian languages, but we primarily work for the Crimean Tatar community," station broadcaster Nadzhiye Femi told RFE/RL. Station director Rydvan Khalilov said the channel will help promote the Crimean Tatar language, culture, and history on the peninsula. JM