President Prime Minister Meet Minsk Group Chairs

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–On December 11–President Robert Kocharian received the cochairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group Carey Cavanaugh of the US–Jean-Jacques Gaillard of France and Nikolay Gribkov of Russia.

Robert Kocharian reportedly said that the visit of such a representative delegation to the region testified to the serious intentions of the cochairmen and the parties to the conflict in regards to the Karabakh settlement.

The OSCE Minsk Group cochairmen expressed their condolences in connection with the tragic events of October 27.

The talk that lasted for over two hours thoroughly discussed the general approaches to the peaceful settlement of the Karabakh conflict. The cochairmen’said their visit was a fact-finding mission and had a consultative character. Highly evaluating the direct contacts between the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan–they announced their intention to render all-out assistance to further dialogue.

"We are interested in the settlement of the conflict–which will not only bring peace to the region but will also lead to economic prosperity," Nikolay Gribkov emphasized.

Declaring Armenia’s adhesion to the settlement approaches–Kocharian underlined: "Stable and strong authorities are needed both in Armenia and Azerbaijan in order to settle the problem. We are ready to assist comprehensively in the work of the cochairmen and are interested in the quick resumption of the process."

Also attending the meeting was Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian and heads of the US and French diplomatic missions.

The same day the OSCE Minsk Group cochairmen were received by Prime Minister Aram Sargsyan. The cochairmen offered condolences regarding the tragic killings of October 27. They said their fact-finding visit was undertaken to help boost the group’s activities. The cochairmen’stressed that a peaceful political settlement of the Karabakh problem remained a priority. The importance of direct contact between the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan was emphasized. The Minsk Group pledged all-out assistance to further bilateral contacts and resume the negotiating process. The need for economic assistance was also addressed.

Sargsyan stressed the need for a peaceful solution to the Karabakh problem so that the interests of all parties concerned will be appreciated and stability in the entire region will be achieved. The prime minister also stressed the importance of maintaining and developing economic stability for the country.

Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian met with OSCE Minsk Group Cochairmen Carey Cavanaugh of the US–Nikolay Gribkov of Russia and Jean-Jacques Gaillard of France on December 11 to discuss the Karabakh settlement after the Istanbul Summit of the OSCE.

The sides reportedly discussed the possible developmen’s in the settlement process. They also addressed the current situation in Armenia–stressing the importance of internal political stability as a fundamental factor in settling the conflict.

On December 12–the OSCE Minsk Group cochairmen left for Stepanakert–Nagorno Karabakh’s capital.

The Minsk Group’s visit will enable them to get acquainted with the political–economic and democratic reforms which are under way in Armenia and will promote the formation of atmosphere of mutual confidence–Speaker of the Armenian National Assembly Armen Khachatrian said at a meeting with the Co-Chairmen. Attending the meeting were also the vice-speakers of Parliament and chairmen of the parliamentary committees.

Gaillard pointed out that the October 27 killings cannot tarnish the democratic processes in Armenia. He laid special emphasis on the quick settlement of the Karabakh conflict–pointing out that the parliament–where different political forces are represented–can play a considerable role in this process. He highly appreciated the Armenian authorities’ realistic position on the Karabakh settlement calling for peaceful political negotiations.

According to the US representative Carey Cavanaugh–the main goals of the current visits are making new proposals and predetermining ways of economic development.

Gribkov stated that the OSCE Minsk Group’s goal is to intensify the efforts towards the conflict settlement–a testimony to which is the current visit.

During the visit parliamentarians and the delegation members expressed their viewpoints.

Attending the meeting were also US Ambassador to Armenia Michael Lemmon and French Ambassador to Armenia Michel Legras.

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