Oskanian Holds Press Conference

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–"It is time the Armenian side of the Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission review its activities of the last six months to evaluate the negative and positive results and to see if there is any weight to their activities. They also need to define any further steps they take," said Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian in a press conference on Tuesday. He pointed out that the position of the UN State Department towards this issue is what it always has been: for a dialogue between the two sides.

Oskanian also spoke about the recent agreement signed among Turkey–Georgia–and Azerbaijan. He said that one should not look for an anti-Armenian trend in the statement on their trilateral struggle against terrorism. Moreover–he said–Georgia should periodically assure Armenia that it will not take any steps within the trilateral cooperation that will have a negative consequences on Armenia or the surrounding region.

The foreign minister also said that it was too early to start talking about Armenia’s membership in the European Union. Armenia must work to reach the standards of the European Union and make a serious effort to strengthen the stability within the country–improve its structures.

"The next step for Armenia’should be to work toward becoming an associated member of the EU. "When this happens–it would be difficult to say how quickly we will benefit from the association–or to what level our economy will flourish–and how much we shall succeed in reforming our legislation or improving our democracy," the minister said.

Chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Commission on Foreign Relations–Hovhannes Hovhannissian stated that it is possible for Armenia to become an associated member of the European Union after 2004.

Oskanian also commented on the Karabakh conflict settlement saying that Armenia and Karabakh will not exclude any plan suggested for the settlement process. But he did not mention any plans that are being considered at the present time. Emphasizing that the legal fact for Karabakh’s independence or its reunification with Armenia have been solidified–but the minister said–"political processes sometimes get more prevailing and–unfortunately–that is today’s situation."

Answering a journalist’s question–the minister said that the decision on the Karabakh issue to be made by the Council of Europe may not have any concrete influence on the process–but it could have a lasting affect on public opinion and the general atmosphere. Oskanian pointed out that the OSCE is the only international organization entitled to propose mandated plans for the Karabakh settlement. The foreign minister also informed the media that–to study the Karabakh conflict–the Council of Europe will appoint a rapporteur who will visit the region to familiarize him/herself with the opposing sides of the conflict and will put together a report which will serve as a basis for PACE’s decision.

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