EU/Caucasus: Parliamentarians welcome further east-west integration

Europe Information Service
February 3, 2005


The EU’s decision to open membership talks with Turkey and the
European Parliament’s approval of the draft EU Constitution have been
hailed by the South Caucasus Parliamentary Initiative as new
milestones in “the process of building a prosperous and democratic
Europe in which the countries of the South Caucasus aspire to
participate equally and fully”. And delegates from the Parliaments of
Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia attending the third Plenary Assembly
of the South Caucasus Parliamentary Initiative in Ljubljana,
Slovenia, from January 17-19 also welcomed the outcome of the
Presidential elections in Ukraine, “a country with which all South
Caucasus states have long historic, economic and political ties”.

The final communique of the third Plenary Assembly of the SCPI said
the Southern Caucasus countries looked forward to the further
development of relations with Ukraine. They also welcomed the keen
interest of the OSCE Slovenian Chairmanship to the region of the
South Caucasus and its commitment to the process of reform and
renewal of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe
and its structures.

But closer to home, things are not so rosy. The Georgian delegation
expressed its concern at the OSCE’s failure, due to a lack of
consensus, to renew the mandate of the Mission monitoring the border
between Georgia and parts of the Russian Federation. The participants
of the 3rd Plenary Assembly of SCPI hoped that an agreement on this
issue can be achieved speedily.

Delegates were also at pains to point out that the South Caucasus is
not making full use of the opportunities offered by the European
integration process. “This is a challenge that the states of the
South Caucasus must take up to ensure better life for the future
generations”, the communique said. The Assembly said it hoped “the
full involvement of the countries of the South Caucasus in the EU’s
New Neighbourhood Policy will be fully utilised by state and society
in the South Caucasus to accelerate the process of economic, social
and political developments in the region”.

Parliamentarians attending the SCPI Plenary Assembly also confirmed
their commitment towards reform and renewal in their countries. They
acknowledged the need to step up efforts to resolve the conflicts in
the region that hinder economic development and political evolution
and welcomed the continued dialogue between the Governments of
Armenia and Azerbaijan in the framework of the “Prague process” in
their effort to find a solution to the Karabakh conflict.

As for the wider initiative, the SCPI welcomed its increasing role in
the region. “The activation of working groups that can dwell in depth
on issues of common interest is in this regard a logical next step”,
the communique said. Delegates called on the SCPI Presidium to move
speedily with the appointment of an Executive Secretary in time to
take office on July 1.