Transcaucasus presidents discuss regional problems

ITAR-TASS News Agency
April 29, 2004 Thursday

Transcaucasus presidents discuss regional problems


The leaders of Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan are determined to go
ahead with reforms in their countries to bring their economies in
line with the standards of the European Union. This theme was central
to statements by Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, Armenian
President Robert Kocharian, and Azerbaijani President Ilkham Aliyev
at a seminar devoted to the problems of the Caucasus region at the
on-going European economic forum.

The leaders of the three former Soviet republics discussed current
reforms in their countries and previewed plans for the future.

Saakashvili told the participants he hoped for Georgia’s admission to
the European Union in the near future.

“I visited Brussels just recently and I hope that Georgia’s admission
may take place sooner than many expect,” he said.

Aliyev recalled Azerbaijan’s “strategic decision” made back in 1993
to integrate in international structures and the world economy.

As for the Armenian president, Kocharian said he did not expect the
European Union might consider the possibility of making Armenia its
member in the near future. He remarked, though, that if Armenia
matches E.U. standards, the goal of European membership will be

The theme of Nagorno-Karabakh was brought up at the seminar. As he
dwelt on the likely ways of settling the conflict, Aliyev said a
settlement must be carried out on the basis of international law.

He said Azerbaijan respected the territorial integrity everywhere and
hoped that it would be entitled to a similar treatment.

Armenian President Kocharian said that in the Soviet Union
administrative borders in many cases were drawn in such a way so as
to ferment regional tensions and thereby enhance the role of the
central authorities.

“I do understand Azerbaijan’s position,” Kocharian said, adding that
the surest way towards a settlement was “peaceful divorce.”

Saakashvili briefed the participants in the meeting arranged by the
Davos World Economic Forum on cooperation with Russia on the mutual
border in the struggle against Chechen militants.

“We have none today, and we do not want them to return,” Saakashvili