YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–The speaker of the Armenian National Assembly Khosrov Haroutiunian met Monday with a delegation led by the Council of Europe Secretary General Daniel Tarschys. The delegation arrived in Armenia as part of its tour of the region.
Jannos Kranidiotis–the deputy foreign minister of Greece–the present chairing country of the Council of Europe–pointed out that the goal of the delegation is to exchange opinions with leaders of the three Transcaucasian nations regarding their countries’ membership of the Council of Europe.
A report will be drawn up on the basis of the results of the visit. This report will be presented to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. According to Kranidiotis–all of the three countries are ready to become members of the Council of Europe. He emphasized the decisive role of parliamen’s in this issue. Kranidiotis welcomed the current democratic processes in Armenia and wished that they would reach European standards.
Tarschys also commended the progress in different spheres in Armenia and the country’s boosted cooperation with the Council of Europe–pointing out that Armenia is currently part of Europe and that all necessary grounds for integration are present.
In response to Tarschys’ concern over the sluggishness in the Karabakh settlement–Khosrov Haroutiunian voiced the opinion that a breakthrough in this issue can be achieved only through OSCE-sponsored negotiations. In this issue Haroutiunian attached great importance to the economic cooperation which–according to him–can restore the atmosphere of mutual trust
Receiving the delegation–President Robert Kocharian said that there are no political prisoners–banned parties and newspapers in Armenia today.
"Armenia has announced its strong determination to integrate into European structures and will be consistently pursuing this policy," stressed Kocharian.
The Council of Europe focuses its attention on the Karabakh problem as well. According to Kocharian–Armenia’s membership to the Council of Europe will not directly help resolve the Karabakh problem. However–both Azerbaijan’s and Armenia’s membership to the Council of Europe will promote a solution to the Karabakh conflict. The president maintained that the conflict must be resolved by the conflicting parties and that the most important task for negotiators to bring the two sides closer together for negotiations.