Kocharian Says OSCE Summit Corrected Mistakes Made at 1996 Lisbon Meeting

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–"I think that we have corrected the negative consequences of the Lisbon OSCE summit. This weekend summit was a diplomatic victory which–I think–provides quite serious possibilities for the Karabakh settlement," Armenian President Robert Kocharian said–assessing of the OSCE Summit in Istanbul on arriving in Yerevan.

The president said that the OSCE resolution adopted in Istanbul does not pose a threat to Armenia or the territorial integrity the Nagorno Karabakh Republic.

The president noted that at his meeting with OSCE co-chairmen and president of Azerbaijan–the sides exchanged opinions and reached agreemen’s on some points. The president reported that in the near future the OSCE representatives will visit the region and try to take certain steps on the basis on these agreemen’s. Kocharian said that there was not a need for a private meeting with Azeri President Haydar Aliyev–as the two were sitting next to each other.

Kocharian said that during his meeting with president of Turkey Suleyman Demirel–the two observed some progress in Armenian-Turkish relations. "Relations are more stable now than a year ago," Kocharian said. The Armenian president noted–however–that Turkey continues to bind up its steps with the Karabakh settlement.

Kocharian described his meeting with US President Bill Clinton as most interesting and reported that they discussed bilateral relations–the Karabakh settlement–Armenian-Turkish relations and the general development of the region.

Kocharian made a speech at the OSCE Summit. The following is the speech:

"First of all–I would like to thank Turkish President–Mr. Demirel for properly organizing the summit and hope the consequences of the destructive earthquakes be quickly overcome.

"Recently Armenia went through one of the most difficult stages of its independence. Today’s forum enables the Armenian people to express its gratitude once more to our friends all over the world for their understanding and support. As before–we are determined to adhere to the policy of reforms. We intend to continue our participation in the processes of European integration and we rely on your support.

"We see the present-day Europe as a multi-layer political structure that aspires to resolve security problems–promote democratic development–human rights and rule of law–and change to a more developed economic systems. Being able to display a versatile approach to these problems–the OSCE occupies a particular place in the European architecture. Armenia has always aspired to be a consistent partner in all the processes within the OSCE framework–both as a contributing and as a benefiting one.

"Our cooperation with the OSCE institutions plays a key role in the processes of deepening democracy–developing an election system and strengthening the foundations of a law-abiding state. The 1999 parliamentary elections testify to Armenia’s commitment to democratic values. We are a party to the Conventional Weapons in Europe Treaty wherein we were open partners during the whole negotiating process. At all stages we were consistently committed to the European Security Charter. We hope the Charter becomes a document promoting the process of peace and prosperity in all the OSCE member-countries in the new millennium.

"The agendas of all the recent international forums included the discussion struggling against terrorism. Today–no country has protection against terrorism. We must unite our efforts to struggle against this vice. The OSCE can play a leading role in this process.

"Armenia has been considering the current format of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen to be the most acceptable to the Karabakh settlement. Unfortunately–the OSCE Minsk Group’s latest proposals–which were accepted by Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh–were rejected by Azerbaijan. Hence–the conflict remains unsettled–and hundreds of thousands of people continue suffering. But–realizing that the settlement of the conflict meets the vital interests of our peoples–we–by means of direct contacts–are trying to prove the seriousness of our intentions to each other and to all the world. On reaching a preliminary agreement jointly with the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairman–we will need the entire OSCE’s strong support.

"We realize that the development of regional stability and cooperation in the South Caucasus is impossible without the improvement of Armenian-Turkish relations. Our wish to turn a new page in improved relations cannot be based on selective historical memory or absolute amnesia. We cannot forget the tragic events in the history of our people and its experience of Genocide. Neither do we wish to gear the evolution of our relations to contradictory interpretations. We should find the way of resolving problems–and to do it we must have discussions.

"The Caucasus is an extremely complicated and highly explosive region–with its ethnic and religious diversity–heavy historical heritage–and the collision of numerous interests. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union–the Caucasus has been adapting to the new reality. The effective Conventional Weapons in Europe Treaty does not solve the current security problems in this sensitive and complicated region. I believe that there is a need for an elaborate regional security system for the South Caucasus that would work in harmony with the European security system. Today our common challenge is the transformation of the Caucasus into a zone of economic cross-roads–a zone of peace and stability–not a region of conflicting armies and arbitrary rule of terrorists."

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