Kocharian Calls Euro Parliament Resolution Serious Progress

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–President Robert Kocharian called "a very interesting document" the resolution on the Karabakh conflict settlement adopted by the European Parliament. This resolution supports the latest proposals of the OSCE Minsk Group. During his Saturday’s meeting with television journalists–Kocharian also praised the latest resolution by the Council of Europe. The president described both documen’s as serious progress in the realm of the Karabakh conflict resolution and Armenia’s development generally.

"The resolution of the European Parliament is the best answer to the ill-wishers who have been–for a year now–have been skeptical about the possibility of finding a peaceful and at the same time fair solution to the Karabakh conflict," said Kocharian. "They kept telling tales about Armenia’s international isolation–where is it? The state is moving in the opposite direction."

In another development–Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian–speaking on television the same day–described the resolution adopted by the European Parliament as a positive important step in the peace process–since–according to him–the European Parliament embraces the parliamen’s of 15 European states which thereby expressed their positive attitudes to the latest proposals of the OSCE Minsk Group and called on Azerbaijan to accede to the peace initiatives.

Oskanian reiterated that the Minsk Group’s proposals were a real chance to settle the conflict. He underlined that only a compromise–or the so-called unconventional solution could end the protracted Karabakh conflict–given–of course–there is a will to settle the problem in the near future–within a year. "If Azerbaijan doesn’t agree to this step–they make other calculations falling out of the process. Such a step changes the rules of the game and is fraught with unpredictable consequences," said the minister–emphasizing that extremist approaches in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict will not work and are simply doomed to failure.

The authorities are able to organize free and fair elections– Kocharian stated.

He stressed that if the elections are declared not fair–there will be negative relations towards the country–"whereas the country’s leadership will acquire complexes." Therefore–the president of Armenia is very concerned with holding free and fair elections–because–it is he who is responsible for all violations during the voting process. Kocharian noted that the government and parties that will have their representatives at the electoral commission should also bear their share of responsibility.

Robert Kocharian believes that the ratio of members of parliament elected by proportional and majority systems – 56 to 75 – is correct for the current moment–since the Armenian public is motivated in politics–but has no certain party affiliation. Considering the elections by majority system to be generally correct–Kocharian stressed the importance of proportional elections from the viewpoint of the formation of parties. The president stressed that the government should reflect the correlation of forces in the parliament.

Kocharian opined that it is necessary to toughen punishment for violations during the vote and implant a negative attitude towards them in public’s conscience.

He noted that the authorities and influential political forces must unite and make use of every opportunity to convince people that the parliament is not a place for criminals–but for politicians.

President Kocharian drew a parallel with the 1995 elections–noting that since then qualitative changes have taken place in Armenia–which–certainly–will reflect on the process and results of the 1999 elections. In particular–the three branches of power have been divided and a truly independent judicial power has been formed. During previous regime–the court sometimes was under serious influence of the executive power–if not its appendix. In contrast to 1995–the decentralization of power has also taken place in Armenia. Certain authority has been transferred to local governmen’s. As an argument proving the impossibility of authorities’ influence on the course of elections–president Kocharian said that unlike the 1995 realities–the state today is not the only employer.

Noting that the current Election Code is much better than the previous one–Kocharian said that his attitude towards the criticism of the Code is calm although criticism is unavoidable whatever the Code states. Kocharian said that the most radical critics of the Election Code and those who allege that the elections will be unfair are those political forces and figures which have little chance to win in the elections.

Kocharian said that the document about amendmen’s to the Constitution will not be put on a referendum simultaneously with parliamentary elections–since the Constitutional Amendment Commission has performed only half of the work. Kocharian said that the work would be finished by the end of the year. The president considered it unreasonable to adopt a document part by part–since this is a single interlinked document which must be adopted as a whole.

New clues have been revealed in the case related to the assassination of Deputy Interior & National Security Minister Major-General Artsrun Markarian–as well as the failed attempt on his life a year ago–Kocharian told the news conference.

He did not detail or specify whether the assassination was perpetrated on political or domestic grounds so that not to create an opinion of political order.

Kocharian denied rumors that there were differences between Interior & National Security and officers of the Armenian armed forces–noting that such a problem does not exist at all. "All of them have gone through the same war," the president said.

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