OSCE Chairman Continues Meetings in Yerevan

YEREVAN (combined sources)–The Chairman-in-Office of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe–Romanian Foreign Minister Mircea Geoana–arrived in Armenia on Tuesday–February 27 on an two-day visit. Geoana met with President Kocharian–the Chairman of the National Assembly Armen Khatchatryan and Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian–as well as representatives of NGOs and local media.

Assessing the process of democratization in the country–the Chairman-in-Office congratulated Armenia on its recent admission to the Council of Europe. "This step reflects progress and is a message of hope. Armenia is taking its rightful place among the family of European nations," said Geoana.

He expressed his gratitude for the support the Armenian government and authorities have been giving to the OSCE Office in Yerevan–which was established one year ago. This support proves the importance that Armenia attaches to the implementation of OSCE commitmen’s–said the Chairman-in-Office.

A number of issues were discussed in his meetings–among them economic and environmental issues–legal and electoral reform and media development.

During a meeting between Geoana and Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian–issues on the OSCE agenda such as economy–environmental protection–human rights–civil society building–corruption–refugees and forcibly displaced people–were discussed. Both said they were satisfied with the work done and the programs being executed by international organizations–in particular by the Yerevan office of the OSCE.

Oskanian said the country’s membership in the Council of Europe would give a fresh impetus to further democratic processes. He added that a commission headed by the country’s president would be overseeing the fulfillment of the obligations Armenia had assumed to become a member of the Council of Europe.

Developmen’s in the Karabakh peace process were discussed earlier. Karabakh leader Arkady Ghoukasian and foreign minister Naira Melkoumian also met with Geoana. Ghoukasian was quoted by his press office as saying that the conflict’s regulation should be based on the formed realities–but not on artificially created models

Prime Minister Andranik Margarian received Geoana on Wednesday. Margarian said he was hopeful Geoana’s visit would also promote the development of economic and political relations between Armenia and Romania. The prime minister also took into account the great reciprocal interest displayed during President Kocharian’s visit to Romania last year.

Andranik Margarian praised the activities of the ambassadors of the two countries–saying that their activity with the government will promote the development of economic relations as well.

Romania’s foreign minister and Armenian ministers of transport and communication Yervand Zakharian–energy Karen Galustian–industry and trade Karen Chshmaritian referred to a number of perspective directions of cooperation–which were bilaterally acceptable. They concern the exchange of experience in the nuclear energy sector–Romania’s participation in building the Iran-Armenia gas pipeline–establishment of joint production of oil in the ?Polivinilatsetat’ plant–consigning ?Nairit’ rubber–organizing joint works of mining non-ferrous metals–studying the possibilities of building an oil processing plant in Meghri–development of tourism–establishment of Yerevan-Bucharest air service–etc.

Mircea Geoana and his delegation also paid a visit to the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin. His Grace Bp. Navasard Ktchoyan–Vicar General of Araratian Patriarchal Diocese–and Very Rev. Fr. Zareh Baronian–Vicar General of the Armenian Diocese of Romania–received the delegation.

Warmly welcoming the guests on behalf of His Holiness Karekin II–Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenia’s–His Grace Bp. Navasard Ktchoyan referred to last year’s visit of His Holiness to Romania–where His Holiness was awarded the highest National Insignia of Romania – "Star of Romania". His Grace mentioned that His Holiness will pay a visit to Romania this year also–on the occasion of the 600th anniversary of the foundation of the Armenian Diocese of Romania.

The Armenian Apostolic and the Romanian Orthodox Churches have always maintained friendly relations–one of the manifestations of which was the visit of His Holiness Patriarch Teoctist–Head of the Romanian Orthodox Church–to Armenia–in 1997. The Armenian people have a feeling of love and respect towards the Romanian people and the Romanian Orthodox Church

Geoana expressed his joy and gratitude for his visit to the Armenia’s’ spiritual center – the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin–and the warm reception. He noted that the 1700th Anniversary will also be celebrated in Romania.

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