YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–"The principles stipulated in the NATO concept–provided that they are preserved as they are on paper–are satisfactory to Armenia," Presidential Spokesman Vahe Gabrielian told a news briefing late last week. "We hope that the principles stipulated in the NATO concept will become reality–and NATO will adhere to them and will not become an aggressive bloc," he said.
Gabrielian pointed out the importance of the meetings held by Armenian President Robert Kocharian during his visit to the US on April 23-28. In her opening speech at the Georgia-Armenia-Azerbaijan tri-partite meeting held under her auspices and attended by the British–Norwegian–French–German and Turkish foreign ministers–US Secretary of State Madeline Albright suggested that steps should be taken towards cooperation in the region: exchange of POWs–joint policy at the borders of conflicting countries–use of water resources. The US also made a proposal on training combat engineers.
The presidential spokesman pointed out the importance of the meeting of the Armenian and Azeri presidents under the auspices of the US–which–unlike other meetings–was held in a constructive atmosphere–said the president. Despite the disagreemen’s existing between the sides "they listened to each other more calmly," he added. During the meeting–in the context of the agreement on organizing more frequent meetings at different levels–the sides reached a preliminary agreement on holding a meeting of the defense ministers in early or mid May. During the meeting–the two countries’ defense ministers will discuss the issues of cooperation in solving the problems of border area and taking steps towards mutual confidence along the whole length of the border.
Gabrielian also singled out President Kocharian’s meeting with the US secretary of state aimed at finding possible ways of resuming the negotiations on the Karabakh settlement.
The presidential spokesman’stressed that during the meeting the two pointed out the role of the OSCE Minsk Group in the Karabakh settlement. The replacement of the OSCE Minsk Group by any other body was out of the question. Responding to the question: "What is Armenia’s position on the USA trying to play a more active role in the Karabakh settlement?" the presidential spokesman’said–"We welcome it."