Schiff Meets With Kocharian Expresses Concern Over “Reconciliation”

In meeting with Schiff–Kocharian says Turkish-Armenian relations must be cultivated through the two governmen’s

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan–Armenpress–RFE/RL)–At the Yerevan airport Congressman Adam Schiff pointed out that it is his first visit to Armenia and he is grateful for the invitation. The Congressman announced his intention to get acquainted with Armenia–the Armenian people–culture–political processes and to contribute to the development of the Armenian-American relations.

Congressman Adam Schiff is a member of the Judiciary and International Relations committees of the House of Representatives. He is one of the most helpful and hardworking Congressman for his Armenian constituency–and has recently carried on vigorous activities aimed at getting the Armenian Genocide recognized by the United States

Meeting Adam Schiff and Glendale City Councilman Rafi Manoukian at the airport were the ARF Bureau members–Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Commission for Defense–National Security and Internal Affairs Vahan Hovanessian–Vice-Chairman of the Foreign Relations Commission Armen Rustamian–leader of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation parliamentary action Aghvan Vardanian–Political Advisor for the ARF Giro Manoyan. It should be noted that the congressman’s visit to Armenia was organized by the Armenian National Committee of America-Western Region.

During his August 22 meeting with the Schiff–Armenian President Robert Kocharian expressed his opinion of the Armenian-Turkish Reconciliation Commission.

Addressing the idea of dialogue–President Kocharian at the same time said: "Taking into account that it is a very delicate issue–it is desirable that the issues of the Armenian-Turkish relations should be discussed either at the state level–which Armenia has never avoided to do–or on the condition that political forces be involved in this process–provided their steps are coordinated." Kocharian also praised the US government of shifting its assistance from providing humanitarian aid to Armenia–as was the case in early 90s–to a more practical cooperation aimed at creating business friendly environment–giving a boost to industry development and creation of new jobs.

Kocharian said that he believes Armenian-American relations are well. According to him–these relations are now reaching a new level–especially since humanitarian assistance programs instigate new types of cooperation. The Armenian-American Task Group is also very active–and its next meeting will be held in October. Stressing that the cooperation in the advanced technology industry is a high priority of the bilateral relations–Robert Kocharian is confident that Armenia will be the center of intellectual services in the region. "Armenia will be the best-organized and stable country in the region with the most liberal economic relations," said Kocharian. President Kocharian extolled Adam Schiff’s activities–his cooperation–and relations with the Armenian community in the USA. The two also addressed the Karabakh settlement.

Schiff also met with Armenian Prime Minister Andranik Margarian. Margarian thanked the government of US for its constant efforts to provide assistance to Armenia’since it declared independence ten years ago He described the current level of US-Armenia relations as "having passed to a qualitatively new stage." Margarian said that one of the main priorities of the Armenian-American relations are programs facilitating solutions to socio-economic problems of Armenia.

These programs will allow new jobs to be created and will allow the economy to develop thereby relieving the social tension in the country. According to Margarian–to solve all these problems–Armenia hopes for assistance of the Diaspora in the US and of the US Congressmen who are interested in the further development of the Armenian-American relations and the improvement of the political and economic situation in Armenia.

Margarian also stressed that Armenia’s economic development–just as that of other countries of the region–significantly depends on the resolution of political problems. In particular–the adoption of the resolution on the Armenian Genocide by the US Congress may promote the establishment of peace in the region–and normalize Armenia’s relations with its neighboring countries Azerbaijan and Turkey.

"Building the relations on the current realities without taking into account the past realities and giving them just solutions has no perspective for the region," said Margarian.

Margarian pointed out that the government is interested in and is ready for cooperating both with the executive and legislative powers and with public organizations in the United States to help restore the earthquake zone–to introduce a network of high technologies–to help further development Armenia’s economy–and to establish stable peace in the region.

Adam Schiff expressed his willingness to contribute to the adoption of the aforementioned resolution by the US Congress. According to him–the establishment of trade and economic relations between Armenia and individual states of the United States–in particular with California–can promote the solution to the problems in the region and Armenia’s economic development. According to Margarian–a relevant agreement is now being elaborated and is likely to be signed by the Armenian government and the administration of California this September.

Adam Schiff also met with Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian when the two discussed the issues of the Armenian Genocide–Karabakh settlement and American assistance to Armenia. They also discussed Armenian-Turkish–Armenian-Russian relations and a number of other regional problems.

Speaking to RFE/RL Wednesday in Yerevan after his meeting with President Kocharian–the Democratic Congressman Schiff said he and his colleagues from the bipartisan congressional Caucus on Armenian issues are planning to reintroduce a new resolution on the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. He added–however–that the leadership of the US House of Representative would try to block the bill before it reaches to the House Floor–as they did it last year. Adam Schiff expressed hope that the passage of the resolution will be successful.

Commenting on the dialogue between former high ranking Armenian and Turkish diplomats–the Congressman’said that he has some reservations on how the members of the Armenian delegations were selected. Schiff expressed doubt that the composition of the Armenian delegation in the Turkish-Armenian reconciliation commission reflects the opinions of wide sections of the population. He pointed out that if the members of the reconciliation commission are not representative of society–the results of the commission’s work will not be trusted by the Armenian people.

"I am also concerned that the Genocide issue is not included in the agenda of the Turkish-Armenian reconciliation commission," Schiff said–adding that the commission’s work will create obstacles for genocide discussions in the US Congress–because the argument will be made that the Armenian and Turkish peoples have got together and they are willing to take the genocide issue into their own hands.

However–the Democratic Congressman’stressed that he supports the dialogue between two peoples on the private and state level. During his meetings today with the Armenian leadership–Schiff discussed also Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as well as strengthening US-Armenian economic ties

Schiff plans to visit Karabakh on Thursday–where he will attend meetings with Karabakh President Arkady Ghukassian–Speaker of the National Assembly Oleg Yesayan–Prime Minister Anushavan Danielian–Foreign Minister Naira Melkumian as well as with leaders of the parliamentary factions.

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