Oskanian Deems 1999 Foreign Policy Successful

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–"1999 was a successful year in terms of Armenia’s foreign policy in the context of bilateral and multilateral relations," Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian said at a press conference on January 13.

The minister said the policies focused on the problems of our region in pursuit of the goal of ensuring regional peace and stability.

He stressed that Armenia had been able to solidify the idea of regional cooperation in the teeth of Azerbaijan’s ignoring it and seeking Armenia’s isolation.

In 1999–Armenia continued the expansion of the tripartite Armenia-Iran-Greece cooperation.

The minister also mentioned other steps that would allow Armenia not only to have access to other continents but also act as a bridge and transit road.

In this regard–Oskanian stressed the importance of signing a transport agreement between Armenia–Georgia and Bulgaria–"which–coupled with TRACECA–would turn the region into an active transport junction."

Commenting on the current relations between Armenia and Turkey–the minister said that although Armenia repeatedly displayed good will–no noticeable progress has yet been achieved in relations with Turkey–and Ankara continues to link relations with Armenia to the Karabakh settlement.

Speaking of the Karabakh peace talks–Oskanian emphasized that "in 1999 Azerbaijan for the first time acknowledged the necessity of a compromised settlement scheme and the world community appreciated the need for resuming peace talks without any preconditions.

The Istanbul Summit of the OSCE fixed the reality in its declaration thereby correcting the situation that emerged in the wake of the previous summit in Lisbon and clearing the way for the resumption of negotiations.

Speaking of Armenia’s relations with the United States–Oskanian stressed the active role of the US in settling the Karabakh conflict and attached high importance to the debate over Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act unfolded in US Congress in 1999 during which both Houses refused to repeal it and supported an increase in aid to Armenia by over $20 million.

In 1999–Armenia’s relations with Russia continued to strengthen–which is more proof that these relations are based on more than objective prerequisites. Oskanian placed importance on Moscow’s most recent initiative–to organize a Kocharian-Aliyev meeting on the sidelines of the next summit of the CIS later this month–which is likely to be attended by Russia’s Acting President Vladimir Putin as well.

Speaking of the impact of the October 27 killings in parliament chamber on Armenia’s foreign policies–the minister said that apart from affecting Armenia’s international prestige–the events had an adverse effect mainly on the Karabakh peace process.

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