YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–A third interparliamentary meeting between the European Parliament and the National Assembly of Armenia began in Yerevan on Thursday. The delegation of the European Parliament was led by the vice-chairman of the European United Confederal Group/ Northern Left Group of the Greens–member of the council of the foreign relations commission–member of the security and defense policy commission–member of the council of deputy chairmen Alexandros Alavanos (Greece).
In his speech–Alavanos pointed to the importance of holding democratic presidential elections in Armenia and recognized the progress made in human rights protection–underlining the free activities of political parties and the absence of political prisoners in Armenia. He referred to the need for establishing the institution of ombudsman and abolition of capital punishment in Armenia. Alavanos also reported some progress in the economic sphere. He stressed the need for a mutually acceptable solution to the Karabakh issue–based on compromises–which–according to him–will open the way for regional development.
Stressing that the European Union regards Armenia as an importance country–Alavanos said that an understanding of the position of the Armenia’s–a nation which survived a genocide–in different issues is necessary. "We respect the history of Armenia," he said.
The Deputy Speaker of the Armenian National Assembly–Youri Bakhshian–described Armenia’s integration into European structures as one of the political priorities for the country. According to him–Armenia’should not stay out of the ongoing integration processes–although it has to cope with the hardship typical of a transition period and–therefore–does not yet meet the requiremen’s the European home is based on. He said that Armenia is seriously creating preconditions for its membership of the Council of Europe by developing appropriate legislation for a new judicial system–improving the human rights situation and liberalizing the country’s economy.
Bakhshian described the dynamics of the relations between Armenia and the European Union as quite obvious–to which the ratification of the Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation by EU-member countries may contribute. Bakhshian referred to the opening of Armenia’s permanent mission in Brussels in 1993 and the appointment of the EU envoy to Armenia in 1997 as a factor promoting bilateral relations.
According to the Bakhshian–the European Union has implemented 150 various programs in Armenia’since 1991. Bakhshian spoke about Armenia’s particular interest in further involvement in intergovernmental programs. He expressed his satisfaction with the fact that bilateral relations–which used to be based on assistance programs–now have entered the phase of development programs.