YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Speaker of the Armenian National Assembly Khosrov Haroutiunian returned Tuesday evening to Yerevan from Strasbourg where he represented Armenia in a meeting of the speakers of Armenian–Georgian and Azeri Parliamen’s–held on the initiative of the speaker of the Armenian Parliament.
At the conclusion of the meeting–the three speakers–who were joined by the chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe–Lord Russell Johnston–signed a joint declaration.
The document stressed the importance of cooperation in the region and the creation of atmosphere of understanding.
"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.
"The Azeri side thought that the formula should reflect in some way provisions concerning the Karabakh settlement," Haroutiunian told reporters at the Zvartnots airport.
"In response–we argued that the Council of Europe is not a European structure which directly deals with the resolution of the conflict–and these issues are put on the agenda of this structure as they concern individual cases of human rights–refugees–national minorities. We’ll try to understand one another. I had a brief talk with my Azeri counterpart Mr. Aleskerov. The meeting was in the spirit of establishing future cooperation."
An agreement was also reached in Strasbourg on the frequent convention of similar meetings under the auspices of PACE. The next meeting is expected to be held in Tbilisi this May.