Peace in Caucasus Crucial for Europe’s Safety

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–During their October 27 meeting–President Robert Kocharian and the delegation led by Chairman of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly Adrian Severin discussed the current stage of the process of the Karabakh settlement.

The Presidential press service told reporters that the Chairman of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly said that he is going to get review the problems and the approaches to the settlement during his visit.

President Kocharian emphasized Armenia’s support for regional cooperation in different spheres–adding that cooperation will provide a favorable atmosphere for a peaceful solution to the conflict.

Severin also touched upon new problems that arose after the September 11 terrorist attacks. He said that peace and safety in the South Caucasus are very important for the safety of Europe.

The sides also discussed the improvement of the political system of Armenia and the constitutional reforms.

The Public Relations Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told reporters that on the same day–Severin met with Minister of Foreign Affairs Vartan Oskanian. The sides discussed the approaches and programs of PACE on the problems following September 11. They also discussed the possible influence of these problems on the Caucasian region. Minister Oskanian also represented the current processes around the settlement of the Karabakh conflict and Armenia’s position towards it.

The previous day–Severin and his delegation met with National Assembly Chairman Armen Khachatryan–who told Severin that since Armenia became a member of the Council of Europe–it has assumed its obligations–and it is being guided by their schedule.

According to the National Assembly Public Relations Department–the PA OSCE Chairman mentioned that there are many crises and conflicts in the region–even though peace-loving people live here.

Khachatryan stressed that Armenia always adheres to the single position regarding the conflict: the problem must be solved by peaceful negotiations. The Azeri official’s bellicose statemen’s are regarded in Armenia as disastrous and the Armenia’s prefer to take the political route instead of looking back and discussing the losses and acquisitions during the last decade. They must look forward and try to establish cooperation and possibilities of economic relations in the region. The NA Chairman mentioned that the meeting of the chairmen of the Parliamen’s of the three countries was held in Tbilisi on October 22-23. The meeting resulted in the adoption of a trilateral statement–according to which the necessity of continuation of regional cooperation is acknowledged. It’s true that the Azeris continue to speak about half a million refugees and allegedly 20 percent of the occupied territories–but these "facts" were repeatedly disproved by evidences. The task is to have political will for solving this problem. And this solution must be just not to become the basis for a new conflict in a short term.

Asked about the priorities of the principles of "territorial integrity" and "the rights of the nations to self-determination" Severin said that in fact the number of principles is still more: since 1975 when the Helsinki document was adopted–one of the principles has been that of the peaceful settlement of conflicts–as well as the principle of maintaining human rights and the rights of refugees. If international security and stability are upset–it will hamper the other principles as well. "I can’t see a conflict between the territorial integrity and the nation’s right to self-determination," Severin said. According to him–integrity should be recognized: no one in the world is ready to forget it. The PACE Chairman’said that the application of self-determination is a problem that needs more analysis. A resolution should be reached by those directly involved–with the assistance of international society.

Severin–who had recently witnessed the refugee camps was under the impression of what he had seen there–and mentioned that the feelings of the common people sometimes mean more than the rationalism of political activists. Severin said he was worried because–"future terrorists are born in such camps."

According to Severin–it’s necessary to be realistic and realize that cooperation at this stage is impossible. He suggested a more active participation of the international community. He suggested that a working group be set up in the PA OSCE to try to help resolve the Karabakh conflict. It was stressed that the group will not repeat the OSCE Minsk Group–but will simply make diplomatic efforts to establish a favorable atmosphere.

At his October 28 press conference Severin was hopeful that he will find the assistance necessary for the creation of the group. The group–according to him–must be created by the parliamentarians under the mandate of the PACE Interim Commission.

According to Severin–the best solution to the Karabakh problem is the elimination of the borders altogether–but he himself realizes that a long time is needed for something like that to happen.

The discussions of the short visit of the PACE Chairman to Armenia and Karabakh covered three issues: security–democratic processes and regional cooperation. Severin pointed out the importance of security in Armenia and in the South Caucasus–especially in the context of struggle against worldwide terrorism.

He said the Karabakh conflict cannot be cured by time alone–we need to act in order to find a final peaceful political settlement of the conflict.

In this aspect–Severin emphasized the country’s ability to compromise–respect toward the norms of international right and the protection of society’s interests in establishing peace in the region.

The NA faction leaders met and discussed these same issues. Galust Sahakyan–the leader of the Unity faction–touching upon the Karabakh Problem–said that the Armenia’s don’t agree with the bellicose statemen’s coming out of Azerbaijan.

Lately–Azerbaijan has been trying to present the Armenia’s as aggressors–and Karabakh as the center of terrorism and drug trafficking. If Azerbaijan continues to develop such an opinion in deed–both the Armenian army and the whole Armenian people will successfully solve the problem of making changes on the map of the Caucasian region.

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