Kocharian Holds Visits Slovakia And Austria

YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Armenian President Robert Kocharian who is on an official visit in Slovakia met with his Slovak counterpart Rudolf Schuster on Tuesday February 26.

At a joint press conference after their meeting–the leaders of the two countries said that the whole package of bilateral relations had been discussed. Kocharian and Schuster said that there were no political problems between Armenia and Slovakia–indicating–however–that the level of economic cooperation was still low. Noting that such a situation is caused by the absence of legislative basis–the presidents of the two countries expressed readiness to bridge the gap.

Kocharian noted that Slovakia’s experience in integrating into European structures is of great interest for Armenia as the two countries have comparable post-Soviet inheritance. President Schuster–for his part–said that Slovakia highly appreciated cooperation with Armenia at various international organizations. According to him–Slovakia counts on Armenia on the issue of its election as non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in 2006-2007.

The Slovakian president–referring to the events being organized by the Armenian community in Slovakia on April 24–officially announced that no one will forbid Armenia’s or Slovakians to arrange any event within the framework of laws.

Various questions were also addressed to the presidents during the press conference. Answering the question on refugees–Kocharian said that the refugees are not from Armenia but Armenia’s from Azerbaijan. He clarified that before the conflict 500,000 Armenia’s lived in Azerbaijan. At the same time he reminded that at the present moment only Armenia’s are living in Nagorno Karabakh. "We do not have refugees–who had to flee because of the absence of democracy in Armenia. They became refugees because of the ethic purge in the neighboring country," he said. He praised the civilized division of Chekhoslovakia–stating that after the collapse of Soviet Union two states should have been formed on the territory previously called Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan: Azerbaijan and Nagorno Karabakh. "This is the reason we support Karabakh’s efforts to form an independent state," he said.

President Kocharian also visited the Slovakian National Council and met with its chairman Josef Miglash and Prime-Minister Mikula Zerinda. He also participated in the ceremony of planting a "tree of friendship," and on late February 26–he left the Slovakian capital of Bratislava for Vienna–Austria.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) acts in the Austrian capital of Vienna–therefore Vienna has also become the capital of Karabakh conflict’s settlement negotiation.

According to Radio Free Europe on February 27 the Armenian president is scheduled to meet with the OSCE Minsk group co-chairmen–who will present him new ideas concerning the settlement of the conflict. It should be stated that OSCE Minsk group Russian–American and French co-chairmen arrived in Vienna from Moscow–Washington and Paris with intentions to meet President Kocharian.

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