Kocharian Chirac Meet

PARIS (Noyan Tapan)–Armenian Premier Robert Kocharian kicked off a tour of France Tuesday by holding a 75-minute meeting with French President Jacques Chirac.

Answering journalist questions–Kocharian noted that the talk mainly concentrated on possible ways to settle the Karabakh conflict–while Chirac introduced France’s position on the problem.

The Prime Minister’s press service has not provided any further details as of yet–but did say Chirac appeared concerned Armenia may appear in political isolation.

"Our goal is resolution of the situation–providing stable status to Nagorno- Karabakh–one which is recognized by the international community–and accompanied by clear security guarantees. Our goal is establishing peace–which would not affect the freedom and self-administration of the people of Karabakh–and–in the contrary–would give them an opportunity for full autonomy in the future."

Kocharian reiterated that Armenia was "losing time on technical issues," whereas basic problems shouldn’t be replaced by such issues.

Kocharian also met with Armenian and French businessmen at the National Council of Businessmen of France Monday. Later on in the day–the Armenian government’s delegation visited France’s Chamber of Industry and Commerce.

Deputy Chairman of the National Council of Businessmen of France–Michel Freich–noted in his speech that exchange of knowledge between Armenian and French businessmen would promote an increase in French investment in Armenia–as well as allowing prospective sectors of cooperation.

Freich praised the professional skills of Armenian experts and Armenia’s scientific potential–and highlighted the role of the Armenian community of France in the matter of development of business relations between the two countries.

Addressing the Council–Kocharian said market relations were being introduced in Armenia due to a consistent government program of reforms–the core principle of which is the creation of a competitive and modern industry. Market infrastructures are being formed–judicial-legal and banking systems are being improved–and commercial and financial-currency regimes have been liberalized. According to Kocharian–the most favorable situation has been created in such sectors as energy–electronics–high technologies–aviation–city planning–light industry–tourism–food industry and the banking.

The advantages of Armenia’s industrial potential are conditioned by two major factors–that all branches of the Republic’s economy have good material-technical base–and the presence of highly-skilled workers. In a number of industrial sectors–Armenia ran’s first in the region–and in some others even holds a monopoly.

After the break-up of the Soviet Union–the most important task Armenia had to undertake was to maintain traditional markets and find new ones. The absence of marketing services has made the majority of enterprises elbow their way out to foreign markets. Many enterprises feel the lack of funds.

According to Kocharian–this can be easily overcome with the help of foreign capital–be it joint ventures–subsidiaries of foreign enterprises–property purchase or direct long-term partnership.

"To put it briefly–there are all opportunities in Armenia to earn money," Kocharian said.

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