EU Deputy in Armenia to Draft Report on Caucasus

YEREVAN (Snark)–A representative of the European Parliament on issues of mutual relations of the European Union with the Southern Caucasus–Pierre Garton arrived in Armenia Friday and held meetings with president Robert Kocharian–foreign minister Vartan Oskanian and other high-level officials.

The European Union is interested in establishing peace and stability in the South Caucasian region–and also in the integration of the South Caucasian countries to the European structures–said Garton at a meeting in Yerevan with the deputy chairman of the Armenian Parliament’s foreign relations committee–Armen Rustamian.

The Armenian National Assembly press service told Snark news agency that the European Parliament deputy noted that one aim of his visit was to prepare a draft report–on the basis of which the EU will elaborate its strategy in the South Caucasus.

Garton arrived in Yerevan from Tbilisi–and prior to this he had been in Baku.

Rustamian–for his part–assured Garton that one of the main priorities of Armenian foreign policy is the republic’s integration into the European structure. He noted that Armenia is ready to participate actively in the regional programs implemented by the European Union.

Rustamian noted the importance of developing cooperation between the European Union and regional countries–as a guarantee of providing stability. He submitted a report on how the process of admitting Armenia to the European Union was going.

The parliamentarian said that the economic cooperation between Armenia and Azerbaijan could be a serious stimulus for establishing an atmosphere of mutual trust in the region–which–for its part–would promote a peaceful settlement of the conflict.

It was mentioned that similar cooperation should be started under the aegis of authoritative European organizations–in particular the European Union.

In this regard the sides noted the importance of the joint declaration on readiness for similar cooperation signed by the speakers of Armenia–Azerbaijan and Georgia in Versailles in December 1999.

Rustamian noted that the paramount task of Armenia is the restoration of the economy and getting the country out of its tough socioeconomic situation. For this purpose–the leading political forces have united around the country’s government and prime minister–Rustamian said.

The parliamentary leader considers active regional cooperation–attracting investmen’s–integration into the European structures to be the main conditions for restoring the economy.

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