Armenia Welcomes French Senators

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Armenian President Robert Kocharian received a delegation of the upper chamber of the French parliament led by Senate Speaker Christian Poncelet Tuesday. The delegation was in Armenia as part of their regional tour.

Kocharian stressed the importance of improving bilateral relations and Armenia’s integration into European structures. The visit of the French parliamentarians is an important step towards expanding bilateral relations–he said.

Following the meeting–Poncelet said that the fact that the two countries are frank with each will help "solve even the most difficult problems."

Poncelet stressed that all problems can be solved by means of negotiations and that solutions can be found if there is good will. The speaker of the French Senate pointed out that both Armenia and France have certain commitmen’s. "We are among the peoples that have suffered a lot and been through severe trials. Therefore we work to strengthen peace. And we would be glad–both the Armenian president and I–if the Transcaucasian peoples could establish a durable–lasting peace at the end of negotiations–enabling the peoples to live in liberty and fraternity. This is our common mission," Poncelet said.

Poncelet announced his intention to arrange a meeting of the top legislators of the three South Caucasus republics in Paris upon the initiative of the Senate.

Highly commending the initiative–Kocharian said that the French cochairman on the OSCE Minsk Group plays an important role in the Karabakh settlement. According to the Armenian president–negotiators must help initiate talks while the parties to the conflict must find solutions.

Poncelet agreed to Kocharian’s statement and noted the importance of the Geneva dialogue between the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Hailing Armenia’s desire to become a full member of the European community–the French Senate Speaker noted that European interests call for Armenia’s membership.

Speaker of the Armenian National Assembly Karen Demirchian also met with French Senator Christian Poncelet. Demirchian said that Armenia is steadily establishing democracy and free economic relations and creating a law-abiding state. He also called for more stable economic relations between France and Armenia.

According to the French Senate Speaker–many French enterprises have already settled down in Armenia. Armenia’s economic progress and existing positive factors taken make the country attractive to foreign investors.

Demirchian said that Armenian-French interparliamentary relations are strong and constructive. He is confident that these relations will be strengthened and reported that an Armenian-French friendship group was formed in the Armenian Parliament. Demirchian also expressed his gratitude to the French National Assembly for adopting a document on the Armenian Genocide.

Poncelet appraised the reforms implemented in Armenia and stated that his country is willing to assist Armenia in solving its problems. Pointing out the importance of developing a peaceful and safe Europe–Poncelet expressed optimism that Armenia will be involved in the current processes in that direction.

Also attending the meeting were chairmen of the Armenian National Assembly committees and leaders of the parliamentary groups and factions.

Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian also met Tuesday with the French delegation. The delegation included Chairman of the French-Armenian friendship group Jacques Oudin.

The sides discussed the idea of teaching French in Armenia. They noted that steps are being made to open a French university in Yerevan.

Later that day the French guests visited the Armenian Genocide Museum at Dzidzernakabert Memorial–where they familiarized themselves with the history of the 1915 Armenian Genocide. Director of the Museum Lavrenty Barseghian drew the guests’ attention to a stand displaying the documen’s of Armenian Genocide recognition by different countries. Barseghian showed a similar stand specially made to display recognition document adopted by the French Senate.

"Since 1982–I have been applying to the French government and demanding that the 1915 Genocide be finally recognized," Poncelet said. He explained that the Senate postponed discussions on the issue because of the crisis in Kosovo.

The French senators laid a wreath at the Genocide Memorial.

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