Ursula Schleicher Held a Press Conference

A1 Plus | 21:47:51 | 17-03-2004 | Politics |


Ursula Schleicher and Armen Rustamyan, Co-Chairs of European Union-Armenia
Parliamentary Cooperation Commission held a press conference Parliament.

Mrs Schleicher expressed joy over the unprecedented economic growth but
added that there are still poor in Armenia and Government had to elaborate
poverty reduction project.

As to provision of speech freedom and pluralism in electronic Mass Media,
Mrs Schleicher informed that the delegation had met Grigor Amalyan. He had
introduced Schleicher the licensing order and explained that broadcasting
can be granted only through tender.

We asked if European Union has key factors to send a group of experts to
check whether there are free frequencies in the Armenian field since
Armenian Communication Minister and Amalyan insist there aren’t any whereas
the specialists confirm the contrary. “Armenia is a CE member and CE has
legal methods to solve such problems. You’d better address it for that
purpose”, Mrs Schleicher answered.

By the way, at the end of the 6th sitting of European Union-Armenia
Parliamentary Cooperation Commission parties approved a statement, which
consisted of rather gentle phrasings, for instance the clause on press
freedom says. “An attention is paid to the vital role of free press to
provide democracy development in Armenia and underlines necessity of
pluralism of electronic Mass Media”.


Kaiser Arbitration May Be Unenforceable – Unfair Competition Case

Kaiser Arbitration May Be Unenforceable, Says Unfair Business Competition
Case Finalized Today
To: State and City Desk

Contact: Carmen Balber of Election Watchdog, 310-392-0522, ext. 324; web:

LOS ANGELES, March 17 /U.S. Newswire/ — The son of a Kaiser Permanente
patient who died under Kaiser’s care filed final papers with the court today
in a groundbreaking suit which requires Kaiser to disclose to patients that
its arbitration provisions may be unenforceable. Kaiser routinely funnels
aggrieved patients and survivors into binding arbitration and denies them
access to the courtroom. Chant Yedalian’s case, brought under the unfair
business competition law and finalized today, restricts the ability of the
HMO to continue forcing arbitration on patients as a way to limit their
Yedalian went to law school following his mother’s death to find a way to
prevent others from suffering as his mother did. Now, Kaiser has contributed
$100,000 to a ballot initiative which would gut the unfair business
competition law, which Yedalian used to force Kaiser’s disclosure.

“Kaiser broke California law by forcing patients into secret arbitration
proceedings without fully and properly disclosing that they had given up
their rights. Today’s filing closes the door on the HMO’s illegal actions.
The unfair business competition law was the only tool I had to hold Kaiser
accountable for its deception. With today’s resolution of the case, Kaiser
should take back the donation it made to the anti- patient initiative and
stop its efforts to restrict patients’ rights,” said Yedalian.

Mandatory arbitration is a private proceeding in which there is no public
record or judicial appeal, and arbitrators are often biased in favor of the
HMO. Kaiser failed to follow state law requiring the HMO to disclose to
enrollees that they were giving up their right to go to court in case of a
dispute. Because of this failure, a court found that the HMO’s arbitration
provision was not enforceable. Yedalian’s suit forced Kaiser to disclose to
patients considering a medical malpractice claim that they may not be bound
to arbitration. After the document filed today is signed by the court, the
action will be dismissed and the court will retain jurisdiction over the
case to ensure that the settlement is enforced and Kaiser informs patients
of their rights.

Yedalian’s mother, Zevart, died in 1998 at the age of 53. She died from
breast cancer after Kaiser denied her a bone marrow transplant that could
have saved her life. His only avenue to ensure that other Kaiser patients
are not secretly deprived of their day in court through hidden mandatory
arbitration agreements was the state’s unfair business competition law.
Under the initiative to gut the law, currently circulating for the November
ballot, Yedalian’s case could never have been brought.

Yedalian joined over 60 public interest groups last week who have asked that
Kaiser and other corporate donors withdraw their support of the
anti-consumer initiative. (Read their letter at
Read the
initiative at .

“Kaiser should not be using premium dollars to fight against patient rights
and HMO accountability,” said Carmen Balber, a consumer advocate with
Election Watchdog. “This ballot initiative is an attempt by big business to
eliminate responsibility when they mislead, abuse and cheat consumers.”

The unfair business competition law was “the only vehicle we had to
vindicate the public’s constitutional right to trial by jury,” said

Insurance, HMO and auto companies are bankrolling the initiative which would
eliminate the right of public interest organizations to bring cases on
behalf of Californians to prevent injury or harm to the environment,
workers, consumers or the public health, instead only allowing cases brought
by the government or after the damage has been done. Further, the
legislature would never be allowed to amend the law.

The big business initiative is in part a response to successful suits
brought by the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights and other
organizations under the Unfair Business Competition Law against HMOs that
put profits before patients and insurance companies that low-balled claims
in the wake of the Northridge earthquake.

Election Watchdog is a political action committee sponsored by Consumer
Watchdog, a nonprofit public benefit corporation organized in California.
Election Watchdog was organized to protect consumers’ interests in the
ballot initiative process and does not take positions on candidate
elections. Consumer Watchdog is the advocacy and campaign affiliate of the
Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR). Learn more at


The dangerous marsh of Karabakh

Azat Artsakh – Republic of Nagorno Karabakh (NKR)


Soon it will be ten years since bloodshed was stopped in Karabakh but
the conflict remains unsettled. The month of February of this year
“dragged” the quest for peace from the deadlock to a real marsh. The
situation with the conflict has never been so disorderly. Today
everybody knows that the delay in the process of negotiations was not
related to the presidential elections in Armenia and Azerbaijan, and
Heidar Aliev’s retreat from power. It is obviously the consistent
crisis: Baku and Yerevan suffer from maximalism and are not willing
for compromises, and Stepanakert does not participate in negotiations
yet. The new president of Azerbaijan Heidar Aliev has realized that
he has no power to admit the loss of Karabakh (his father was almost
going to take that step), and therefore prefers not continuing (on
the acquired basis) the negotiations with Robert Kocharian started
three years ago in Key West and Paris. Foreign minister of Azerbaijan
even proposed starting the negotiations from “zero” but nobody knows
where this zero is. Robert Kocharian does not agree to give up what
has been achieved. But if they propose starting negotiations from
zero Robert Kocharian suggested starting them with Nagorni Karabakh.
Baku appeared in a controversial situation. If they formerly
emphasized that Azerbaijan’s patience is not limitless, and they
would liberate the territories occupied by Armenians at any cost
(even by violating all their obligations of settling the conflict in
a peaceful way) today they are of the opinion that time works for
them and there is no need to hurry. It is known that the parties and
the international organizations have always been absolutely for a
rapid peaceful settlement. Baku also reminds regularly that the life
of the Azerbaijani refugees in tents is unbearable any more. And
suddenly such slowness. Moreover, I. Aliev is categorically against
compromises, which even his father did not dare to make. Perhaps he
has discovered another “possibility” of regulation, that of
unilateral dictate. Formerly they blamed Robert Kocharian for not
being concessive and tolerable, for the syndrome of the winner.
Whereas today, I. Aliev has gone further ahead of Armenians assuming
the bearing of a virtual winner in the economic and military
competition. We may only welcome the fact that he has been supporting
peaceful settlement of the conflict more often, yielding only to the
announcements of the defence minister about revenge by force. We
shall ascribe these zigzags to the fact that the head of state
adjusts to his role in hard conditions, and come back to the hard
fate of the Karabakh settlement. Despite the disorderly situation,
one thing is clear: Baku and Yerevan cannot impose on each other
their favourable variants of solution neither in respect to the cause
of the conflict (the status of Nagorni Karabakh) or elimination of
the consequences (occupation of territories outside the border of
NK), nor the methods of problem settlement (package or false stage by
stage variant). The approaches of the parties in many respects were
very different in the past too but they have never been that
polarized. The doubts concerning the effectiveness of the meeting of
the two presidents today are becoming clearer. It is high time to
reconsider the “lazy” process of negotiations for Nagorni Karabakh
but never to start from “zero”. It is necessary to return to the
stable mechanism of regular negotiations between the accredited
delegations of all the parties within the framework of international
mediation, with an open agenda to achieve agreements in any question
(no matter if those are insignificant in the beginning). A true
alternative to the deadlock in the negotiations is the ancient saying
“Slow and steady wins the race”; it will be favourable for all the
parties. Patiently proceeding “from the simple to the complicated” is
more effective than any attempt at solving the problems immediately.
If seeking for the settlement is to go on within the framework of the
OSCE (otherwise there are a lot of candidates) there is no more exact
calculation than the resolutions of the December 6, 1994 summit of
Budapest. Those were passed by consensus, on the highest level, and
what is more, not before the peak of military actions (as the
Helsinki resolution of March 1992) but after the cease-fire. It is
more substantial than the other processes for the mechanism of the
negotiations. The later created forms of relationships (meetings of
presidents, missions of the co-chairmen) were some additional forms
never brought into being outside the mandate of Budapest. This was
the result of inconsistency of the parties and the departure of the
co-chairmen from the OSCE resolutions under the pressure of the
parties. By the way the Budapest summit had set an aim to conduct
negotiations without delay and open the Minsk consultation. The OSCE
and the co-chairmen could have revealed more clearly to what extent
the parties needed international mediation in conflict settlement.
How can the parties demand activity and new suggestions from the
mediators if they do not hurry at all (some quietly, others
announcing to the world). The efforts of the parties for finding
peace should not be weaker than those of the mediators. There are
already many ideas on resumption of the negotiation process, there is
also a variety of new suggestions. But this will have meaning only in
case of more serious approach to the problem by the parties which
have brought the long-lasting deadlock situation to a dangerous


YMCA in Artsakh

Azat Artsakh – Republic of Nagorno Karabakh (NKR)


By the invitation of the public organization “Youth Center” the
delegation of the Young Men’s Christian Association arrived in
Stepanakert on March 8. The delegation was headed by the vice
secretary chief of the European alliance of YMCA Mihal Shumanchek.
Among the delegates were the secretary on development of the YMCA
European alliance Vardan Hambardzoumian, the chairman of the Armenian
national union of YMCA Artur Ghazarian, secretary of programs Marat
Mouradian, director of the office Ghazaros Bardakchian. According to
the chairman of the organization “Youth Center” Lousine Grigorian, in
2002-2003 several members of the center visited Armenia, Georgia and
Russia and, took part in the training held by the Council of Europe
on democracy and conflicts where they came in touch with members of
the YMCA. In autumn several YMCA members visited Stepanakert and once
again met with the members of the Youth Center. On March 8 of the
current year the YMCA delegation arrived in Stepanakert to assist to
the young people of Artsakh in establishing the organization here.
The first YMCA in Armenia was established in 1908, in the city Adana
in West Armenia, the members of which fell victim to the genocide
organized by Turkey. In Armenia the movement was revived in 1992 due
to a group of young people in cooperation with the organization Care
International. In 1994 it was registered as a public organization.
According to Lusineh Grigorian, probably by the end of 2004 the
Artsakh organization of YMCA will start operating in Artsakh.


G. Kasparov: Glad that tournament is held in Stepanakert

Azat Artsakh – Republic of Nagorno Karabakh (NKR)


On March 9 the international chess tournament devoted to the 75th
anniversary of the 9th champion of the world Tigran Petrossian
started in Stepanakert. Ten grand masters of chess, 3 international
masters, honourable guests from more than ten countries take part in
the tournament, among them the ex-champion of the world Boris
Spassky, grand masters Yevgeny Sveshnikov, Vladimir Hakobian and
Smbat Lpoutian, and others. The Azerbaijani authorities indeed made
much noise about the “organization of an international tournament by
FIDE in Khankendi, the center of Nagorni Karabakh considered an
Azerbaijani territory.” They were especially disappointed with the
greeting of the chairman of FIDE to the participants of the
tournament. And it is not a surprise that the mass media of our
neighbour country on these days is busy with another campaign against
“arrogant Armenians”, the NKR authorities. They, in particular,
“revealed” the observations of the former world champion of chess
Garry Kasparov he made in his interview to the Russian TV channel
NTV. The reason may be the memories connected with the world-famous
chess player born in Baku or simply the feeling of hate and jealousy…
Who knows? But in his speech Kasparov did not mention them at all,
and especially did not hurt the dignity of the Azerbaijanis. In this
case what is the meaning of getting angry and making a racket before
the world. In his greeting Kasparov simply mentioned, “I am glad that
the international tournament in the memory of T. Petrossian is held
in Stepanakert, which, in my opinion, is a manifestation of good will
on the part of FIDE. Life in Nagorni Karabakh is normalizing. The
wounds caused by the war are healing. People are busy with creative
peaceful work. And it is extremely important that together with
maintaining the defence of the country the authorities pay special
attention to the problems of development of culture and sport.
Presentations are organized in Stepanakert – Nagorni Karabakh
officially steps on the international arena. And I am glad that
especially Stepanakert was chosen for holding the international
tournament. I congratulate heartily all the participants of the
tournament, as well as the organizers who managed to overcome the
complex and gave way to Karabakh to the international arena.” In his
speech the chairman of FIDE Ilyumzhinov also emphasized the
importance of the tournament. He approved of the fact of holding the
international tournament devoted to the 75th anniversary of the world
champion Tigran Petrossian in Stepanakert and assured that the
tournament will favour the development of traditions of the Armenian
school of chess. Expressing his concern referring the attempts at
hindering the arrival of the foreign chess-players to Nagorni
Karabakh, obstructing the tournament, NKR prime minister Anoushavan
Danielian emphasized the inadmissibility of politicizing such spheres
as sport, humanitarian problems. He described the efforts of Baku as
an encroachment on the people of NKR. “The fact that the ambitions of
the Azerbaijani authorities are devoid of basis is proved by holding
the tournament which took place despite everything,” mentioned A.
Danielian, “sport has always been regarded as the ambassador of
peace. Therefore, the interests of our nations demand that battles
should take place on the chessboard and not in battlefields…” “It’s a
pity that Azerbaijan is discontent with organizing the tournament in
Stepanakert,” mentioned the organizer of the tournament, director of
the Armenian academy of chess, Smbat Lpoutian, “every similar
tournament is a significant event for the world of chess, especially
when it is held in the memory of a person such as Tigran Petrossian.
All the chess-players taking part in the tournament received the
invitation with love. I am sure that Stepanakert will become a
traditional town of international meetings and will be recognized in
the world as a chess town.” The chess commentators of the TV channel
NTV Sergey and Marina Makarevich also expressed their ideas
concerning the tournament held in the capital of NKR. Comparing the
recently held tournament in Linares with Stepanakert Sergey did not
hide his surprise concerning the fact that Nagorni Karabakh, having
just overcome the war, could organize a sport event on such a high
level. “Being so small, Stepanakert, in fact, has become a chess town
and is in the center of attention of the world chess-players today,”
he said. And his wife Marina, who covered the tournament of Linares,
added, “The sport and creative morale of the tournament in
Stepanakert is so high that I seemed to be in Linares. I admired the
new juvenile chess school of Stepanakert which, indeed, will have a
great future. I became convinced there that the young men love chess
more than in any other country. And the important thing is that they
do not play badly.”


Rag-tag team seeks puck of the Irish

Globe and Mail, Canada
March 17 2004

Rag-tag team seeks puck of the Irish

>From Wednesday’s Globe and Mail

This was the summary from yesterday’s big hockey game in Iceland:
Mexico 8, Ireland 3. Ireland’s first two goals were scored by a
Russian defenceman. The Irish also got a goal from a left winger who
just happens to be a tennis pro who lives and coaches in Dublin.

But forget about that for a moment. Yesterday is done. Today is the
day that matters. Today is the day the tennis playing Larry Jurovich
and his Irish teammates have been thinking about for months; the day
they can do themselves and all Ireland proud by scoring their first
victory at a world hockey championship and on St. Patrick’s Day, no

All they have to do is beat Armenia. Beat Armenia on St. Paddy’s Day
and, guaranteed, Irish hockey will have its galvanizing moment, its
1972 Summit Series, its 1980 Winter Olympics; also a good excuse to
drink green beer.

Mind you, just making it to the 2004 International Ice Hockey
Federation Division III world championship in Reykjavik is a major
accomplishment for this Irish team. Ireland has little history and no
burning connection to the game. It has even less when it comes to
youth hockey. As for permanent rinks, you can count them on two
fingers (the Odyssey Arena in Belfast and the International Ice Bowl
in Dundonald).

That so few given so little could get to a world championship is a
tribute to the Irish team’s spirit, its raw athleticism and, of
course, a bunch of puck-crazed Canadians.

You didn’t think there’d be a hockey story without some Canadian
content, did you? Jurovich, the tennis ace and goal-scoring left
winger, was born in Vancouver. He is now a naturalized Irish citizen
who serves as the high-performance coach for Tennis Ireland.
Centreman John White is a 44-year-old Dublin-born Canadian who says
he played his minor hockey in Brantford, Ont., with none other than
Wayne Gretzky. Garrett MacNeill, another Dublin-born Canadian, plays
defence for the Manhattanville College Valiants, an NCAA Division III
school in New York.

Then there are the coaches, Greg Fitzgerald and Jim Graves, both of
whom hail from the true north strong and free and now reside in
Dublin. Rounding out the rest of the roster are seven players from
Belfast, nine from Dublin and Dimitry Slavashevsky, the 34-year-old
defenceman whose parents came from Minsk, perhaps to get away from

If the Irish lineup seems more than a wee bit quirky, consider what
the players had to go through in preparation for the world
championship. At first, they practised in Dublin, where the last
permanent arena was shut down four years ago. They practised
outdoors, on a non-regulation-size rink, after they’d finished work.
During Christmas, the players practised outdoors at midnight, after
all the public skaters had gone home. They did this three times a
week until they figured there had to be a better way, and there was.
Sort of.

What the Dublin-based players did was climb into their vehicles and
drive 21/2 hours north to Belfast, two, sometimes three times a week,
for on-ice sessions. They did this when they weren’t doing off-ice
workouts at the national boxing club or in-line skating to stay in

“We may not have a rink, and we may lack game experience, but we’ll
have the best fitness possible,” team captain Mark Bowes promised.

Bowes is the general secretary of the Irish Ice Hockey Association.
He and president/defenceman Cliff Saunders have done their part to
promote the game in Ireland, a game that Saunders has described as “a
cross between hurling and skating with the excitement of both.” (No
word on what Saunders thought of the Todd Bertuzzi incident, which
made a lot of Canadians think about hurling, too.)

Just how well Ireland will do at the Division III world championship
is an exercise in wishful thinking. Five years ago, the country sent
a team to the European under-18 junior championship in Bulgaria and
failed to win a game. Five players from that team played yesterday
against Mexico in a game in which the Irish were tied 2-2 after one
period, down a goal after two periods but badly outscored in the

But to the likes of Slavashevsky and Jurovich and everyone else on
the emerald team, yesterday’s loss is over and done. Today is all
that matters; the day they can down Armenia and make their mark. That
it could happen on St. Patrick’s Day has presented them with an
opportunity they’ve been dreaming about for months.

The question now is: Is there a Paul O’Henderson in their midst?

Potential Caspian oil production cannot free US from OPEC by 2008

Oil And Gas Journal
March 17 2004

Analyst: Potential Caspian oil production cannot free US from OPEC by

By OGJ editors

HOUSTON, Mar. 17 — Caspian Sea region oil reserves will not free the
US from its dependence on the Organization of Petroleum Exporting
Countries by 2008, said Wayne Andrews, analyst with Raymond James &
Associates Inc.

“Politically, the stakes may be high, but from a pure energy supply
standpoint, the region is only a minnow in the vast ocean of Middle
Eastern oil,” Andrews said in a research note last month.

The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline will accommodate further development
by Azerbaijan International Operating Co. of the
Azeri-Chirag-Gunashli (ACG) complex off Baku. The pipeline will bring
oil from Caspian fields to Turkey where it will be exported to world

“While we see no inherent problem in the construction of the pipeline
itself, everyone should be clear that the amount of oil in question
is so modest as to be almost immaterial for the market,” Andrews

Best case scenario
Currently, the ACG Phase 1 produces less than 150,000 b/d. A BP
PLC-led consortium plans to ramp up production to 1 million b/d by
2008 in three phases, starting with 350,000 b/d in 2005 (OGJ Online,
Sept. 18, 2002).

But assuming that production does increase sevenfold in 4 years, the
growth only represents an extra 850,000 b/d.

“To put this in context, we project that global oil demand in 2004
will average 80.5 million b/d. Even assuming a very conservative 1.2%
annual demand growth for the next 4 years, 2008 demand would reach
84.4 million b/d, 3.9 million higher than currently,” Andrews said.

That means that Caspian oil would provide slightly more than 1% of
global demand in 2008, he concluded, noting that amount “will not
come even remotely close to replacing the West’s dependent on Persian
Gulf oil.” Meanwhile, OPEC is expected to supply 35-45% of world oil
supplies in 2008.

Obstacles to Caspian development
Andrews does not expect Caspian oil production to proceed as quickly
as project sponsors have forecast.

“If fact, there are several significant obstacles that may serve to
slow down development of the Caspian fields over the intermediate
term. While it is difficult to quantify their impact, it seems clear
to us that their overall influence will be negative,” he said.

The three biggest obstacles are corruption, political instability,
and the threat of violence.

The Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline is slated to run through Azerbaijan,
Georgia, and Turkey. Andrews noted that corruption “has reached
enormous proportions since 1991” in Azerbaijan and Georgia.

“Despite the institutional safeguards insisted upon by the
multilateral lenders who provided project finance for the pipeline,
it is probable that at least some of the funds will not be spent
according to Western ‘best practices.’ This has the potential to
materially slow the pace of construction,” Andrews said.

After pipeline construction is finished, the system will face the
threat of violence from a potential conflict between Armenia and
Azerbaijan (OGJ Online, Jan. 30, 2003).

“Where there is a durable ceasefire in place, it is important to
recall that this conflict had escalated into nearly full-scale war in
the early 1990s. Other ethnic tensions in the Caucasus may lead to
strikes on the pipeline and other oil infrastructure,” Andrews said.

In addition, the Caspian region presents the logistical problems of
operating in remote terrain and the technical challenges of handling
highly sour crude oil.

RJA outlined “a mid-range scenario” in which the Caspian supplies
0.5% of world oil demand by 2008.

“In short, the Caspian’s output potential is simply too low to be of
any real significance for the oil market, so there is every reason to
believe that OPEC will be at least as firmly in control of the market
in 2008 as it is today,” Andrews said.

Russian FM speaks out on Russia’s policy in southeast Asia

RIA Novosti, Russia
March 17 2004


MOSCOW, March 17, 2004 (RIA Novosti) – Moscow has noted progress in
Russian-Chinese relations. “China is our neighbour and friend,”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told a press conference on

“Russia’s and China’s positions on the overwhelming majority of
international problems are identical,” Mr. Lavrov said and added that
China’s position was becoming clearer and more outward-looking.

Mr. Lavrov also said that China was emerging as a major international

Russia believes it important that China should tackle international
issues in cooperation with other countries. “This is a guarantee of
sustainable international relations,” said the minister.

Speaking about Russia’s relations with Japan, Mr. Lavrov said the
bilateral peace treaty must be drafted with due heed to the two
countries’ constitutions.

The minister said Moscow and Tokyo had a plan, according to which
they were working over the treaty.

When pressed for comment on Russia’s position on the territorial
dispute with Japan, Mr. Lavrov said that both countries had relevant
guidelines and the desire to move on.

Japanese Premier Junichiro Koizumi and Russian leaders adopted the
Action Plan in January 2003 when Mr. Koizumi was visiting Russia.
This comprehensive political document outlined the guidelines of
bilateral cooperation, including the guidelines of peace treaty

The negotiating process involves the two countries’ senior officials
and a bilateral commission, which was set up in 1998 and is headed by
the two foreign ministers.

Japan’s claims to South Kuriles continue to be the most sensitive
issue of bilateral relations, which hampers the signing of the peace
treaty. The insufficient volume and dynamism of mutual trade, which
do not correspond to the two countries’ cooperation potential, poor
investment in the Russian economy and Tokyo’s refusal to re-register
the former Soviet Union’s property in Japan with modern Russia make a
series of other problems facing the two countries.

Mr. Lavrov also emphasised at the press conference that Moscow sought
to continue the six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear programme.

The Russian minister emphasised that the next round of talks had been
scheduled for as early as the summer of 2004.

Mr. Lavrov said he would meet his South Korean counterpart, Pan
Ki-mun, in late April or early May.

“This is when we will discuss arrangements for the third round of
six-party talks on North Korea, which will positively take place,”
Mr. Lavrov said, when asked whether the impeachment of South Korean
President No Mu-hyon would influence the negotiating process.

The process involves the United States, North Korea and other parties
concerned, including Russia, China, South Korea and Japan, which are
looking for ways to end the North’s nuclear programme. The first two
rounds of talks in Beijing did not bring progress, however the
countries did not abandon their efforts.

At the end of the second round of talks, the parties announced that
they would gather for the third round in summer 2004. They also
resolved to set up a joint working group to round off rough corners
in the positions of, above all, the USA and North Korea.

Observers suggested that the impeachment of the South Korean leader,
who supports rapprochement with the North, may affect the course of
talks. However, South Korea’s constitutional court may overrule,
within 6 months, the parliament’s impeachment decision if it finds it
insufficiently substantiated.

When speaking about the situation in the Balkans, Mr. Lavrov said
Russia was continuing to promote its interests in the region by
developing friendly relations with regional countries.

“We look forward to a time when the withdrawal of troops of one
country from another country will not be treated as the latter’s
inability to ensure its interests,” said Mr. Lavrov.

Mr. Lavrov said Moscow advocated a united Cyprus’ accession to the
European Union. However, this must happen on mutual accord and under
the UN aegis, said the Foreign Minister.

In the beginning, Russia had some doubts about the UN-proposed scheme
of resolving the Cyprus problem, according to which the UN Secretary
General was to advance his solution if the Cypriot negotiators,
Greece and Turkey fail to come to an agreement.

“We thought such an approach would endanger the principle of
voluntariness,” said Mr. Lavrov. He added that the involved parties’
current actions dispelled Moscow’s doubts.

In comments on media reports that Greece has approached NATO,
requesting it to help ensure Greek athletes’ security during the
summer Olympics in Athens, Mr. Lavrov said it was Greece’s legitimate
right to do so. “As to our athletes, we will resolve this problem on
our own,” he said.

When dwelling on certain aspects of Russia’s relations with former
Soviet republics, the Foreign Minister emphasised that Moscow was
continuing efforts to settle the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict over
Nagorny Karabakh.

“Russia co-chairs what is known as the Minsk Group, which also
involves the USA and France. The group is looking for appropriate
ways to settle the conflict,” said Mr. Lavrov.

The group had advanced a series of settlement scenarios, which did
not work for technical, and later on, for political reasons,
according to Mr. Lavrov.

Yerevan and Baku will conduct direct political dialogue, which will
bring stability to the entire region, said Mr. Lavrov.

Kocharian welcomes wider Europe, new neighbors concept

March 17 2004


YEREVAN, MARCH 17, ARMENPRESS: Armenian president Robert Kocharian
has reaffirmed today his country’s commitment to enlarge the frames
and deepen cooperation between Armenia and the European Union.
Receiving a delegation of the European Union-Armenian parliamentary
cooperation commission, led by Ursula Schleikher, Kocharian described
economic relations between the parties as “very practical,” and
welcomed the process known as “Wider Europe, New Neighbors.”
“It is a serious incentive for Armenia to continue the process of
reforms and bring its legislation in compliance with European
standards,” Kocharian was quoted by his press office as saying.
Members of the delegation, who visited previously Armenia in 2002,
noted a significant progress since then, especially in what relates
to economy and stability. Ms. Schleikher was quoted as saying that
the South Caucasus is in the focus of Europe’s interests, which wants
it to be a region of stability and peace.
Kocharian briefed the delegation on a variety of issues, including
also prospects for resolving the Karabagh conflict.

Margarian meets OSCE Chairman-in-office

March 17 2004


YEREVAN, MARCH 17, ARMENPRESS: Armenian prime minister Andranik
Margarian met today with the visiting chairman-in-office of the OSCE,
Bulgarian foreign minister Solomon Passy, who has arrived in Armenia
after visiting neighboring Georgia and Azerbaijan. The goal of the
visit is to get first-hand information about South Caucasian problems
and the latest developments concerning regulation of the region’s
The prime minister expressed hope that the visit will have a
positive impact on the resolution of the conflicts promoting
establishment pf peace and stability and reiterated that Armenia’s
foreign policy is aimed at closer integration with Europe, recalling
that Armenia joined OSCE in 1992. Relations between Armenia and OSCE,
according to Margarian are important first of all with regard to
efforts aimed to help the conflicting sides resolve their dispute
over Nagorno Karabagh.
He underlined that Armenia stands for continuation of the
disrupted negotiations process finding that jointly implemented
projects, not only together with Azerbaijan, but also with Turkey,
without preconditions would significantly raise chances for a
peaceful solution through building confidence measures. “The sooner
our problems with Azerbaijan and Turkey are resolved the better for
all sides, as we are neighbors and are doomed to live side by side,”
he said, but added that Turkey is not prepared now to accept this
‘clear realities,” and therefore Armenia is against Turkey taking up
in 2007 the chairmanship over the OSCE. “Our position in this regard
may change only after Turkey establishes full diplomatic relations
with Armenia and opens its borders,” he said.
Margarian also said that Armenia was disappointed with the OSCE
chairman-in-office’s failure to condemn the brutal murder of an
Armenian officer in Budapest by an Azeri classmate. According to
Margarian, such a step would have been appropriate having in mind the
demeanor of Azeri authorities seeking to justify the crime.
The prime minister also praised the OSCE Yerevan office for its
productive cooperation with Armenian authorities, singling out its
assistance in helping draft a series of legislations.
Solomon Passy in turn said his conclusion was that a dialogue,
joint discussions are the best way for resolving all exiting
problems. He also welcomed Armenia’s position to start cooperation
with its neighbors without preconditions pledging also his support.
Later in the day Solomon Passy was received by foreign minister
Vartan Oskanian.