First EU Armenia Parliamentary Committee Meeting Held

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–The first constituent meeting of the EU-Armenia Parliamentary Cooperation Committee held in Brussels discussed the prospects of the Karabakh settlement as well as issues of the Armenia-EU cooperation–members of the Armenian delegation told a news conference December 10.

The meeting held on December 6-8 was presided over by the Christian Democrat from Germany Ursula Schleicher and Head of the Armenian delegation Hovhannes Hovhannissian. They discussed issues of democratic–institutional and economic reforms as well as the current economic situation in Armenia.

Besides Chairman of the Parliamentary Foreign Relations Committee–member of the Stability deputy group Hovhannes Hovhannissian–the Armenian delegation included Leader of the Right and Unity faction Artashes Geghamian–member of the Unity faction Gagik Melikian and independent deputy Hran’sh Hakobian.

The news conference participants reported that a heated debate was held at the meeting over the issue of shutting down the Armenian NPP. Due to the efforts of the Armenian delegation the fixed term of its shutdown (2004) was withdrawn from the resolution–and the problem of developing alternative methods of obtaining energy was raised. In particular–the meeting participants stressed the need of laying the Iran-Armenia gas pipe-line.

At the Armenian delegation’s suggestion the meeting discussed the issue of Armenia’s blockade by Azerbaijan and Turkey–which was also reflected in the resolution–although without these countries being mentioned–which–according to Hovhannissian is accounted for by solely technical reasons.

The meeting participants also discussed Armenia’s involvement in regional rehabilitation programs–opening of the EU Permanent Mission in Yerevan–and the Karabakh settlement within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group.

Hakobian reported that in discussing the problem of democratization the meeting participants underlined the importance of training and support of Armenian mass media and providing them with modern equipment.

They also pointed out the importance of bilateral relations as a result of the signing of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between the Armenia and the European Union. Emphasis was laid on the effective implementation of the TRACECA and INOGATE projects as guarantees of balanced regional development.

The second meeting of the Committee will be held in Yerevan in autumn 2000.

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