New EU Envoy to S. Caucasus in Armenia

YEREVAN (Armenpress)–The European Union’s (EU) newly appointed special representative to the South Caucasus Heikki Talvitie–on a regional visit to Armenia–met on Monday with President Robert Kocharian–Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian–and deputy chair of Armenian Parliament Vahan Hovhannisian.

President Kocharian welcomed EU’s decision to appoint a special envoy to the region–and reassured the representative that Armenia continues its policy of integrating European standards. "We long to establish a country [whose laws are] in compliance with European standards," Kocharian told Talvitie. The two discussed EU expansion and EU-Armenia cooperation–the elimination of the death penalty–improvement of the electoral system–and the role of the South Caucasus in the EU.

In the meeting with Oskanian–Talvetie presented his mandate–and issues of priority during his tenure–to strengthen regional cooperation–preserve relations of regional countries–and support of regional conflict regulation. Concerning the Karabagh conflict regulation–Talvetie revealed he would only support the Minsk group co-chairmen in their bid to regulate the conflict. Oskanian and Talvetie also discussed EU-Armenia relations–reforms in the electoral system–and freedom of the media.

In the meeting with Hovhannisian–Talvetie again discussed regional issues–including normalization of relations with Turkey. Hovhannisian stressed that establishment of relations is greatly dependent on Turkey’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide.

Talking about reforms–Hovhannisian said that though Armenia failed to fulfill its commitmen’s before the CE due to presidential and parliamentary elections–he pledged that the new political coalition would do its best to fulfill them before January.

Talvetie stressed the need to restore licensing to the A1+ TV station–after Armenia’s National Commission on Television refused to award the independent station a new broadcast license earlier this month–after its forced shutdown in April 2002. Hovhannisian agreed that the station should have received the right to broadcast and that both the Armenian Revolutionary Federation and the Republication Party support–and will continue to push for the move.

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