YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–A meeting of parliament speakers from Georgian–Azerbaijan and Armenia took place Monday at the Council of Europe building in Strasbourg. The meeting was attended by Khosrov Haroutiunian of Armenia–Zourab Zhvania of Georgia and Murtuz Aleskerov and chaired by the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly president Russell Johnston.
In convening the meeting Johnston voiced hope that this first meeting will lay the foundations for new relations among the three Transcaucasus countries.
He said these countries have many problems which may be resolved through efficient cooperation. He noted that dialogue was necessary–assuring that the Council of Europe would render every possible assistance in this matter.
Haroutiunian–stressing the importance of regional cooperation which should meet interests of all the three nations–emphasized the achievemen’s of European countries in this area.
The Armenian parliament speaker expressed confidence that the sponsorship of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe could become a guarantee for stable and democratic development of the region.
Haroutiunian urged his counterparts to demonstrate political will and–taking advantage of the available opportunity–to lay the foundation for constructive dialogue. He considered it necessary to begin this dialogue from parliamen’s–since the parliamentary diplomacy proved to be an efficient instrument.
Haroutiunian asked Johnston to develop an agenda to stimulate cooperation among parliamen’s of the three countries and start this cooperation with seminars covering issues of mutual interest.
During the second half of the meeting the sides developed a joint declaration which was adopted by the three speakers and chairman of PACE.
"We are convinced that parliamen’s have an important role to play in developing regional co-operation and creating an atmosphere of confidence. We therefore decided to establish dialogue at the parliamentary level to discuss issues of common interest–such as harmonization of legislation–protection of human rights–the rights of national minorities–situation of refugees and displaced persons–exchange of prisoners of war and hostages and trans-frontier co-operation–as well as other questions chosen by mutual agreement," read the announcement.
"A series of tri-lateral parliamentary meetings will be organized under the auspices of the Parliamentary Assembly–starting this year and taking place successively in the three capitals of our countries," continued the announcement.
"In applying for membership in the Council of Europe–Armenia–Azerbaijan and Georgia have clearly expressed the will to become an integral part of the European democratic family and to share and respect the European values. We believe that this parliamentary initiative will contribute to the reinforcement of our democratic institutions as well as to the solution of the conflicts in the region and help to fully integrate our countries in the structures of the Council of Europe–taking into account all relevant texts of the Parliamentary Assembly," concluded the announcement.