YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian last week received the visiting delegation of the European Parliament led by Alexadros Alavanos.
The sides discussed the current state of the Karabakh peace process. Oskanian presented Armenia’s position regarding the Karabakh settlement–as well as the chief factors impeding the negotiation process–such as the principles of settlement declared by the OSCE co-chairman during the Lisbon Summit–as well as the tough position of Azerbaijan. Minister Oskanian pointed to the importance of resuming peace talks without any preliminary conditions.
Addressing relations between Armenia and the European Union–the sides stressed that all EU members should ratify the Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation between Armenia and the European Union as soon as possible to achieve the provisions of the given agreement.
The members of the European Parliament’s delegation expressed their satisfaction with the fact that the Armenian parliament adopted in its first reading the law abolishing capital punishment.
The sides agreed on cooperation within the framework of international organizations in issues related to the adoption of resolutions on the abolition of capital punishment.
Expressing regret on behalf of the European Parliament that no progress was made at the OSCE Lisbon Summit in 1996–Alavanos pointed out–Friday–that a fair and realistic solution to the Karabakh problem based on the OSCE principles should be found.
The European Parliament delegation supports the efforts of the OSCE Minsk group aimed at finding the peaceful solution to the Karabakh problem–he said–adding "the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan having also expressed their support." The delegation stressed the need to settle the conflict as soon as possible–pointing out that its final settlement will give Armenia the opportunity to "make another step toward the European structures."
Addressing relations with the Transcaucasian countries–Georgia–Armenia–Azerbaijan–the statement made by Alavanos stressed the strategic significance of the Transcaucasian region conditioned by its wealth of power resources and the prospects for becoming the vastest transit territory between Europe and the Middle Asia. The European Parliament delegation believe that in this aspect Armenia can also play an important role.
The delegation underlined that "The European Union must cooperate with Armenia–pursuing the goal of promoting the strengthening of the independent mass media and civil society. The European Parliament delegation positively assessed the progress made in the sphere of democracy and human rights and welcomed the Armenian delegation’s assurances of the abolishment–in the near future–of capital punishment and improvement of the Criminal Code."
The statement also said that the two parliamentary delegations agreed to meet in Brussels or Strasbourg to set up the committee on "European Parliament-Armenia" parliamentary cooperation under the aegis of the Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation. The agreement was signed in Luxembourg in 1996 and is to come into force in 1999.