Oskanian Assesses OSCE Istanbul Summit

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Direct participation by the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic in peace talks was not foreseen for this year–announced Armenia’s foreign minister Vartan Oskanian during a telephone press conference Wednesday to discuss last week’s summit of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Oskanian was in the US to take part in Thursday’s Armenia Fund Inc. telethon.

The foreign minister said–however–that the prospects of Karabakh’s direct involvement in peace talks were high and he was encouraged that such a measure will be agreed upon by the beginning of next year.

Oskanian also commented on remarks made in Istanbul by French president Jaques Chirac–who expressed optimism over the possibility of an agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The foreign minister said that while Chirac’s commen’s would place the region in a desirable situation–the signing of an agreement within a month would be impossible. "This is just a wish by one of the co-chairmen of the Minsk Group," Oskanian said.

However–Oskanian stressed that an upcoming visit by the three OSCE Co-chairmen–France–the US and Russia–would go a long way in infusing the needed momentum to resume peace talks and continue the process which began in May 1994–following the cease-fire agreement.

Oskanian added that the upcoming OSCE co-chairmen’s visit will not address a new peace proposal nor the signing of any agreement. He said the visit would mainly be an advisory fact-finding mission.

He expressed hope that the Minsk Group leadership would positively evaluate the peace process and encourage direct talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan–a process which has been adopted between the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan. Oskanian said that parallel efforts were also needed as a follow-up mechanism–and he suggested to host similar talks between the heads of the countries’ foreign ministry.

Oskanian evaluated the summit positively–especially since he said the impasse created in the peace talks since the 1996 Lisbon Summit was overcome–given the declaration of intent in Istanbul.

In discussing Turkish-Armenian relations–Oskanian said that Turkey had not completely fulfilled the criteria by which it can be admitted to the European Union.

The foreign minister–added that it was beneficial to have a neighbor whose boundaries extend to Europe. He stressed–however–that Turkey was not ready to become a full-fledged European Union member given its track record on human rights–as well as its ill-treatment of its neighbors–its handling of the Kurdish and Cyprus issues and its denial of the Armenian Genocide.

Oskanian was on a working visit to Germany November 19-23.

On November 23–Oskanian held a meeting with German Vice-Premier–Foreign Minister Joshca Fischer. The sides discussed the results of the OSCE Istanbul Summit–regional cooperation and security–Karabakh settlement–as well as the Armenian-German political and economic relations. Attending the meeting were the newly appointed head of the Transcaucasus and Central Asia Department–German Foreign Ministry–Herdt Braun and Armenian Ambassador to Germany Ashot Voskanian.

On November 22–the Armenian foreign minister held a meeting with Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee–German Bundestag–Hans Ulrich Kloze–leaders of the German-Caucasian group–German Bundestag–and official representatives of the German Development and Investmen’s Association.

During the meeting with the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee–the sides discussed the domestic political situation in Armenia–results of the OSCE Summit and a number of problems in bilateral relations. The sides also discussed the latest development of the regional processes and the issues of Armenia’s membership in the European structures–in particular–its full membership in the Council of Europe.

During the meeting with Chairwoman of the German-Caucasian group Christa Lerher and Vice-Chairman of the group–Vice-Chairman of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Willy Wimmer–the sides confirmed the need for deeper interparliamentary cooperation and mutual visits of parliamentarians. The sides also discussed Vice-Speaker of Bundestag Anke Fux’s possible visit to Yerevan early next year. Oskanian presented the issues discussed at the OSCE Summit–the latest developmen’s in the Karabakh settlement and the domestic political situation in Armenia.

At the meeting with vice-president of the German Development and Investmen’s Association Wolf-Ditter Meltzer and Regional Director of the East European Department Franz Joseph Vlosbach the sides discussed the current state of the Armenian-German economic cooperation and possibilities of encouraging German investmen’s in Armenia.

An agreement was reached on holding an Armenian-German economic forum in late April 2000–which was postponed because of the parliamentary killings on October 27.

The German’sides presented to the Armenian foreign minister two brochures from the guide published by GDIA in connection with the forthcoming economic forum. The guide covers the possibilities of improving the investment climate in Armenia.

Oskanian participated in the work of the annual general meeting of the Central Board of Armenia’s of Germany and in the celebrations on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Board in Frankfurt.

The Armenian foreign minister also held a meeting with representatives of the Armenian community in Berlin at the Armenian House in Berlin.

On November 23 Oskanian left for Los Angeles to participate in the All-Armenia Fund Telethon to be held on Thanksgiving Day.

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