Kocharian Proposes Linking US And EU to Caucasus Security

TBILISI (Agence France Presse)–A multinational agreement involving the United States and the European Union is the only way to guarantee peace in the southern Caucasus–Armenian President Robert Kocharian declared Wednesday.

"The system of security can only be effective if all the powers which have influence in the region take part," he told the Georgian parliament–in proposing a three-tier system of international cooperation.

The first level of the agreement would involve Armenia–Azerbaijan and Georgia–the region’s three former Soviet republics–Kocharian suggested.

The neighboring powers of Iran–Russia and Turkey could then act as the accord’s guarantors–he said–while the United States and the European Union would sponsor the process.

"Stability will not rest on any solid basis if we ignore the need to cooperate with Russia," the Armenian leader said. "The region cannot fail to take account of Russia’s fundamental interests."

Inclined to regard the Caucasus as its own private sphere of influence–Russia has taken offense at recent US efforts to court the region’s governmen’s in the name of oil and gas exploitation.

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