EU Commissioner Supports Minsk Group Decisions

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Armenian President Robert Kocharian received an EU delegation led by the European commissioner for foreign affairs Hans van den Broek. It was stressed during the meeting that the European Union attaches high importance to the region. Van den Broek reported that the goal of their visit was to promote mutual relations–especially in the business sector–as well as to discuss issues of regional cooperation.

Van den Broek stressed that the European Union has scheduled the implementation of two major programs in the spheres of transport and energy. Describing regional programs as the best guarantee of stability in the region–Robert Kocharian pointed out that these programs should include all states of the region.

The sides also discussed the Karabakh settlement within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group. Presenting Armenia’s stance–Kocharian pointed out that Armenia prefers a package solution without preliminary conditions. According to the president–the entire settlement process from beginning to end must be based on the principle of equality of all sides involved. Karabakh and Azerbaijan should only have balanced relations–he said–ruling out any direct control of Karabakh by Azerbaijan.

According to Kocharian–the approach being offered by Armenia today were once applied in settling conflicts in the Balkans and Northern Ireland; similar approaches are also being discussed for Cyprus.

At a Tuesday news conference van den Broek said the European Union fully supports the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen in the Karabakh settlement. He underlined–however–that the parties to the conflict have to reach a mutual agreement. The commissioner did not rule out the need for direct talks between Baku and Stepanakert to achieve a speedy solution to the conflict.

"Even if other EU members follow suit–I do not think that it will change the EU’s attitude toward the Minsk process," said van den Broek–commenting on the recent resolution adopted by the National Assembly of France on the recognition of the 1915 Armenian Genocide.

He said that a political dialogue with Armenia will begin after the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement signed between the European Union and Armenia comes into force. Asked to comment on why the European Union had already initiated similar dialogue with Georgia prior to ratification of their agreement on partnership and cooperation either–van den Broek said–"EU-member states consider it inappropriate to start a political dialogue with any country before the ratification of the agreement–however that by no means rules out the possibility of bilateral relations between EU members and an established state."

To avoid misunderstanding–the commissioner explained that it is done because–"We [the EU] do not want to meddle in any secondary or parallel negotiations or give such an impression in connection with the Karabakh conflict."

Stressing that the Karabakh peace process must be conducted by the organization with appropriate powers–the OSCE Minsk Group–van den Broek said that the European Union through its aid programs has attempted to promote the solution to problems connected with the deportation of citizens and refugees.

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