Kocharian Optimistic About Regional Relations

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)– President Robert Kocharian received a group of Azeri journalists who are here to attend a conference organized within the framework of the "Assistance to Transcaucasian Mass Media" Program and held under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland. For the first time in recent years Azeri journalists also visited the capital of Karabakh – Stepanakert.

Hailing similar meetings–which are becoming traditional–Robert Kocharian said that these contacts are the first attempt to listen to each other and understand each other. Kocharian especially stressed the important role of the mass media in this.

The main issue of interest for Azeri journalists was the Karabakh settlement. Presenting Armenia’s position–Robert Kocharian pointed out that–despite the deadlocked situation in the negotiating process–an uninterrupted process of consultations with the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen is in progress. Stressing the need for direct talks between Karabakh and Azerbaijan–Robert Kocharian said–"Nagorno Karabakh should act as a full party to negotiations."

The sides also addressed the issue of regional programs–and in particular the upcoming TRACECA Conference in Baku to be held with the help of the European Union. According to the president–Armenia is showing great interest in regional cooperation.

Answering journalists’ questions–Robert Kocharian also addressed Armenia-Russian relations–giving assurances that the crisis in Russia will not have any essential impact on the Armenian economy–as internal conditions make it possible to ensure stability. As for the country’s economic development–today’s economic showings give reasons for optimism. Kocharian also stated that existing economic conditions give him reason to believe that Armenia will become a new state in several years.

Meanwhile–presidential advisor Aram Sargssian met with Germany’s Ambassador to Armenia Carolla Muller Holtkemper on Wednesday to discuss the TRACECA Program which is being implemented with the help of the European Union.

On behalf of the German Government–Holtkemper hailed Armenia’s willingness to participate in the program.

Sargssian stressed that participation in similar programs aimed at developing regional cooperation is a priority in Armenian foreign policy–as economic cooperation may create fairly good grounds for political contacts. It was also pointed out that Armenia will present its own proposals during next week’s TRACECA Forum in Baku. The proposal will not be an alternative but an addition to the program.

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