FM Oskanian Attends Council Of Europe Ministerial Session, Holds Tal

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia
Contact: Information Desk
Tel: (374-1) 52-35-31
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Minister Oskanian attended the 114th Ministerial Session of the Council of
Europe in Strasbourg on May 12 and 13.

Over two days the Minister met with the Council of Europe leadership, held
several bilateral meetings, and delivered a statement at the Session.

In the sidelines of the meeting, the Minister met Azerbaijan¹s Foreign
Minister Elmar Mamadyarov, under the aegis of the Minsk Group co-Chairmen,
to continue the consultations which had begun in Prague a month ago on
looking for common ground based on which the sides can resume negotiations.
They agreed to meet again in June.

The Minister¹s meetings within the Council of Europe structures included
extensive talks with Walter Schwimmer, Secretary General of the Council of
Europe, Peter Schieder, President of the Council of Europe Parliamentary
Assembly, Bruno Haller, Secretary General of the Council of Europe
Parliamentary Assembly, as well as the members of the Council of Europe¹s
Monitoring Group which follows Armenia¹s completion of its membership
commitments, known as the Ago Group.

With the Council of Europe officials, the Minister discussed the recent
resolution passed by PACE on Armenia¹s domestic situation. He thanked the
leadership for reaffirming that the opposition must leave the streets and
enter into a dialog in Parliament. He also reaffirmed Armenia¹s willingness
to address the issues raised by the Resolution. Finally, he indicated the
importance of receiving reliable, comprehensive information from Yerevan in
order for accurate conclusions and perceptions to be formed in Strasbourg.

In the margins of the Ministerial Session, the Minister met with the foreign
ministers of Georgia and Norway. Norway has just assumed the chairmanship of
the Council of Europe.

The Minister also met with Ireland¹s Deputy Foreign Minister, who informed
the Minister of the decision taken the previous day by the Irish EU
Presidency to recommend to the European Union Council of Ministers to
consider inclusion of Armenia and the other two Caucasus republics in the
EU¹s Wider Europe, New Neighborhood Initiative.

Minister Oskanian also met with members of the Council of Europe¹s Ago
Group, now headed by Ambassador Mats Aberg of Sweden. He responded to their
questions regarding the domestic situation in Armenia and provided other
information on Armenia¹s completion of Council of Europe commitments.

Minister Oskanian, in his statement delivered to the Committee of Ministers,
spoke about the need to convene the third Council of Europe Summit so that
heads of state can address the changing role of the Council of Europe in
light of an enlarged Europe, an expanding NATO and other European and global
challenges. He reiterated Armenia¹s support of reforms to the European Court
of Human Rights convention. During the session, the Minister signed Protocol
14 of the European Convention on Human Rights which reforms the Court¹s
ability to deal with repeat cases, with unmeritorious applications and
provides new admissibility criteria.

The entire text of the Minister¹s statement appears below.

May 12, 2004

Secretary General,
Dear Colleagues,

Each year, the focus of this organization and its member states remains the
same: to enhance democratization and rule of law so that governments can
nurture healthy societies and healthy economies.

Together with the OSCE and the European Union, the Council has worked hard
to institute programs which protect human rights, promote environmental and
economic progress, and advance democratization agendas. Armenia supports
deeper cooperation among these three European institutions, and advocates
the creation of mechanisms to increase effectiveness and minimize
duplication especially in light of the new definitions and relationships
that are appearing with an enlarged and widening Europe.

Unfortunately, some of what has emerged presents a quandary for mankind. We
thought human slavery was behind us. But Europe of the 21st century has been
stained by the scourge of human trafficking. With the dangers of terrorism,
too, and its threat to break up the international order as we¹ve known it,
we recognize even more that the only real defense against these mass
challenges to the principles and precepts that guide us is the deepening of
the rules of democracy and civil society, so that each individual gains from
that system and thus becomes more willing to defend and propagate that
system. We welcome, therefore, the reform of the European Court on Human
Rights. We will sign the protocol 14 tomorrow as one step forward for the
protection of human rights in Armenia and in Europe.

In order to provide the necessary attention and focus these issues require,
we would hope for a third Council of Europe Summit, where at the core of the
agenda would be the new menaces and new challenges which occupy our
attention and demand our resources. An enlarged European Union, an enlarging
NATO, evolving transatlantic interactions, this is the context against which
our heads of state should meet and carve out a new vision for a Council of
Europe that was born in one era, and now must lead in another.

Our search for deeper relations with Europe has, for us in the Caucasus,
become both cause and effect. This process is a continuum that began when we
targeted Council of Europe membership as a goal. We benefited from that
process, as we continue to benefit from membership itself which jumpstarted
and quickened legislative, judicial and other reforms. Today, we are looking
forward to becoming part of Europe¹s New Neighborhood and creating our own
cooperative and integrated neighborhood.

It is the same with democratization. The decision to transition to a
democratic, rule of law system of governance was a significant step. The
process of accomplishing that goal is an ongoing one, for all countries.

Mr. Chairman, I recall my first statement here, immediately after Armenia¹s
membership. I said then that we have become members not so that we would
bring our problems to this Council, but to use the Council to address our
problems. This is the first time that my Azerbaijani colleague and I are
both using this forum to meet in the sidelines and seek common ground, from
which I hope we can defend the rights of the people of Nagorno Karabakh to
self-determination, while resolving the other consequences of the conflict
which continue to cause pain and suffering to both Armenians and

Exactly 10 years ago today, the leaders of Nagorno Karabakh, Armenia and
Azerbaijan demonstrated the necessary political will to put a stop to years
of fighting, and to institute what is today the longest, and the only,
self-monitored ceasefire in the world. Today, as we meet under the aegis of
the Minsk Group co-Chairs, we have a chance to exhibit political will yet
again, and in this second decade, take our peoples forward toward a lasting

I will use the opportunity today of meeting here with my new Azerbaijani
colleague to call for a de-escalation of the rhetoric of war, and the war of
rhetoric. Both sides stand to benefit from the suspension of charges and
accusations. The Europe of which we are a part is a Europe without borders
and barriers. This Europe presents us the opportunity to take advantage of
the mechanisms and institutions that have been developed and have proven
themselves in defending, promoting, implementing European ideals and
European norms.

Mr. Chairman, we hope to return to this forum, proud of our accomplishments
not just in establishing a vibrant democracy, but also in making possible
prosperity and cooperation in our region.

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