S. Caucasus countries to bring their economies up to EU standards

April 29 2004

WARSAW, APRIL 29, ARMENPRESS: At the lunch attended by the
presidents of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia and moderated by
Christopher Hill, US ambassador to Poland on the sidelines of the
European Economic Forum in Poland, on April 28, all three republics
demonstrated an eagerness to bring their economies up to the
standards of the European Union. The main obstacle to regional
solidarity remains the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over
Nagorno Karabagh. Georgia’s president Mikhail Saakashvili
demonstrated more willingness to provide a common ground to work
around the limitations imposed by the dispute and to work towards a
negotiated settlement, while Robert Kocharian of Armenia noted that
it will be a long time before Georgia can think of actually joining
the European Union. “On the whole, whatever we do we do in terms of
harmonizing and conforming to European standards,” Kocharian said.
President of Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliyev, noted that foreign
investment in Azerbaijan is now adding up to around $10 million a day
and is expected to reach $9 billion over the next few years. He said
that he is aware of the mistakes of other countries that have
squandered sudden oil wealth. “We look at the bad experiences, too,’
he said. Azerbaijan is at a crossroads,’ he added.
As for the dispute with Armenia over Nagorno Karabagh, Aliyev
remarked the Azeris believe that a settlement should be based on
international law. “We respect territorial integrity anywhere,”
Aliyev said, and :we expect that to be applied to us.”
Replying to Aliyev’s analysis, Kocharian pointed out that many
borders in Europe have been altered and some have disappeared with
changing circumstances. he added that in the former Soviet Union,
borders had occasionally been drafted intentionally to exacerbate
conflicts in order to enhance centralized authority.
“I understand the position of Azerbaijan,” Kocharian added. “What
we need is a peaceful, amicable divorce,” he said. Answering a
question from the law on regional economic integration, Aliyev
insisted that the war is too much of an obstacle. “You cannot imagine
two countries at war having economic cooperation,” he said.
Kocharian on the other hand, suggested that regional cooperation
might help create an environment for resolving other conflict.
Saakashvili stated that he does not believe a solution can be forced,
but that the way to proceed is to start negotiations at all levels.
“Both leaders are reasonable people,” he said.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress

Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS