PABSEC Meeting in Yerevan

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–The two-day 16th plenary session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (PABSEC) opened in Yerevan November 29 covered a wide-range of issues related to the development of political–economic and humanitarian cooperation–democracy and lawfulness.

The session was held at the National Assembly and chaired by Armenia. Heads of the national delegations discussed legal and political issues–particularly–legal aspects of the fight against corruption.

The role of mass media in the development of cooperation in the Black Sea region was also discussed. In addition–a declaration on the first general assembly of the Black Sea capitals association is expected to be adopted. The meeting participants will elect a PABSEC deputy chair and approve the assembly’s budget for the next fiscal year.

The assembly chairman–Speaker of the Armenian parliament Armen Khachatrian will hand over his PABSEC chair to his colleague from Azerbaijan Murtuz Aleskerov. Top officials of Azerbaijan’s parliament have come to Yerevan for the first time since the start of the Artsakh conflict in 1988. The Azerbaijani delegation was headed by First Deputy Speaker Arif Ragim-zade.

According to Khachatrian–the parliamentarians intend to settle all problems in a peaceful way – by means of negotiations and cooperation. Eight members of the Turkish Parliament also participated in the Yerevan meeting.

Talking to journalists–the First Vice-Speaker of the Milli Mejlis of Azerbaijan–Arif Rakhimzade stated that the bilateral economic cooperation is impossible until the return of Azeri territories seized by Armenia. Armen Khachatrian responded by saying trade and economic relations will contribute to a peaceful settlement of the conflict.

As for discussion on opening the Armenian-Turkish border–Khachatrian said,"Yesterday we talked to the members of the Turkish delegation and pointed out the importance of trade and economic ties–and agreed that political problems such as the Genocide are also of high importance. However it is crucial that we begin to take the first step towards cooperation–which will lead to negotiations."

Also discussed at the meeting was the current state of Lake Sevan. According to the nature protection ministry–despite the government’s efforts to save the lake from ecological disaster–few results have been obtained so far. The water level of Armenia’s largest natural reservoir is continuing to fall and its current level is the lowest registered in the last several years despite a serious cutback in the use of its water for irrigation and power generation.

The unprecedented drought of last summer resulted in intense evaporation. Situated about two kilometers above sea level–Sevan plays a pivotal role in Armenia’s ecological system. According to the ministry–no water has been artificially pumped out of Sevan this year for a cascade of hydro-electric stations situated along the Hrazdan river. The use of Sevan’s water for irrigation purposes has been likewise minimized.

Head of the parliament committee on state and legal issues Victor Dallakian believes that this issue is likely to be solved at the BSEC plenary session–to be held in Baku during the upcoming summer–after which the BSEC bank will allocate money for the realization of ecological works in the lake.

Armen Khachatrian added that Armenia expects BSEC’s assistance in solving the problem of Lake Sevan as well as in the reorganizartion of the Armenian Rehabilitation Center of the Red Cross into a regional center.

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