Socialist Leader Ayala Meets with Kocharian

HOLDS PRESS CONFERENCE–STRESSES ARFS ROLE IN COOPERATION WITH ARMENIA

YEREVAN (Yerkir)–Armenian president Robert Kocharian met on Friday with the Secretary General of Socialist International (SI)–Luis Ayala. ARF Bureau members Vahan Hovhannisian and Mario Nalbandian as well ARF Armenia Supreme Body representative Armen Rustamian accompanied the guest who is in Armenia on the invitation of the ARF.

The Secretary General briefed President Kocharian on the activities of the worldwide organization comprised of over one hundred socialist and social democratic parties.

Addressing the issue of Armenia’s presidential elections–Ayala stated that countries in transition face great difficulties on the road to establishing democracy. "This is a process requiring gradual development–consistency and firm efforts," he said

On Thursday–Ayala held a press conference to present his impressions of Armenia during his three-day visit–and to speak about projected activities.

Speaking to the press conference–Ayala stressed the significance of his visit–and added that ARF’s membership to the Socialist International (SI) would greatly contribute to the advancement of SI’s cooperation with Armenia.

"We have high expectations that the ARF will succeed in the upcoming parliamentary elections–presenting the opportunity for Armenia to develop–based on socialist and social-democratic ideology," said Ayala.

Speaking about his meeting with President Kocharian–Ayala said shortcomings of the presidential elections were discussed–and the President revealed that corresponding authorities are in charge of investigating all the claims. "In the capacity of a monitor–I have visited various developing countries and I know that all of them–while on the path of democracy–at some point face the same difficulties. It is critical that the issues be resolved." He offered SI’s full assistance in overcoming related obstacles.

When asked why the ARF–a social democratic organization– has included many representatives of business world in its list of candidates for the parliamentary elections–Ayala said that the 21st century has set new challenges for mankind–according to which the interests of all the sectors of society must be presented.

Ayala said he considers ARF’s approach a wise one and not in conflict with SI’s ideals. "Armenia’s economy is developing–and the party is ready to take on responsibility in the business sector as well," he said.

He announced that the SI plans to hold several conferences in Yerevan with European Union representatives to discuss development of socialist and social-democratic ideals in the South Caucasus.

"In Armenia–I consider the ARF as the main bearer of socialist principles–together with those political currents that are ready to contribute to democracy and the welfare of the Armenian people," Ayala said.

Addressing a question about the war on Iraq–Secretary General Ayala said–"Today is a very sad day. We hope that the human casualties will be minimal." He stressed that Iraq’s disarmament could have been settled politically.

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