YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–A delegation led by foreign minister Vardan Oskanian visited Budapest–where it participated in celebrations dedicated to the 50th anniversary of the Council of Europe.
During the visit Oskanian met with OSCE Chairman in Office–foreign minister of Norway Knut Vollebaek–with whom he discussed the current state of the peace process aimed at settling the Karabakh conflict and Vollebaek’s forthcoming visit to Armenia.
On May 7 Oskanian met with chairman of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe Lord Russel Johnston–leaders of delegations of Finland–which is the next country to preside over the Council of Europe–and Ireland.
The same day Oskanian addressed the Broad Joint Session of the Committee of the Council of Europe. He in particular said:
"The Republic of Armenia has started democratic reforms not just to become a member of the Council of Europe. Although starting the reforms and realizing the necessity of summing up achievemen’s and the necessity of moving steadily forward is important–we need to be integrated into such institutional structures as the Council of Europe.
"In recent years we have been trying to ensure a steady preparatory process for the accession to the Council of Europe. In natural conditions these transitional realities may and should take long time. Yet we need to speed up the process.
"Juxtaposing the existing achievemen’s with our hopes and stating how far Europe has moved and how much we wish to join it–we at the same time can’t but voice our concern–or if you want–our alarm. From time to time we become witnesses of differences between the advocated standards and the way they are applied–assurances concerning principles of equality and justice and certain actions and decisions–which we anyway deem as discriminatory and unfair.
"We do not deny that the South Caucasus is a region where the democratic building has not yet been completed. A stable and democratic South Caucasus is still going through the stage of formation. And… looking ahead–we shouldn’t ignore the fragility of the newly-emerged balance. We accept and welcome the constructive role that the Council of Europe may and must play in the matter of strengthening of regional balance. Although it (the Council) should not–even unwittingly–deepen disproportions by disproportional application of its principles."