BRUSSELS–At its March 24-25 meeting in Brussels–the EU-Armenia Parliamentarian Cooperation Committee reaffirmed the 1987 resolution regarding the Armenian Genocide–reported the European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy. The Committee also reiterated its position on Turkey’s lifting of the blockade against Armenia as a pre-condition of Turkey’s accession to the EU.
Topics covered in the meeting included the economic and social conditions within Armenia–environmental issues–democratization–human rights and the freedom of press. A great portion of the meeting focused on the recent presidential elections in Armenia. Representatives of the EU and the European Parliament expressed their concern about reports of electoral fraud and tensions following the elections and called for more transparency in upcoming legislative elections.
In their final declaration–Parliamentarians adopted a statement on the Armenian Genocide; the Committee noted "again that the European Parliament position on the issue is reflected in its resolution of June 18–1987 and February 28–2002," and urged recognition as the "basis for reconciliation." It also reiterated its "call on Ankara to re-open its borders with Armenia in accordance with its commitment as a candidate for EU membership."
During frank discussions–the rapprochement and even accession of Armenia to the European Union was raised several times. In its preamble–the final statement adopted at the end of the meeting reaffirmed "Armenia’s strong inclination toward Europe and its resolve to be more deeply integrated into European structures."
"We are pleased that the Parliamentarians recognize the Turkish blockade against Armenia as an act of aggression that is in direct conflict with the Copenhagen criteria and the status of candidate-country. We hail the Parliament’s consistency on this issue–as the committee’s position is identical to that of the Oostlander report on Turkey’s accession to the EU," declared Mr. Laurent Leylekian–Executive Director of the European Armenian Federation.
"We also applaud the European Parliament’s recognition of the genocide and its unambiguous calls on Turkey to do the same. However–we urge the Parliament to use the Oostlander Report to reiterate this position to its Turkish counterparts. The Parliament’s message would be clearer–more coherent and more credible. At a time when Turkey has been demonstrating its imperial inclinations in the Middle-East–it would be an effective way to remind Turkey of our European values and its commitmen’s," he added.
The meeting also touched on the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. All the parliamentarians agreed that negotiations would not pick up until 2004 because of the presidential elections in Armenia and Azerbaijan in 2003. The Armenian delegation reiterated that the Nagorno-Karabakh issue must be settled on the basis of a negotiated solution and denounced the military threats made by Azerbaijan as well as the measures taken by that government.
The Armenian Parliamentary delegation–chaired by Hovhannes Hovhannissyan–Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Armenian Parliament–was accompanied by Samvel Mkrtchyan–Head of the Europe Division of the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The European delegation was chaired by Ursula Schleicher (Christian Democrats – Germany) Chairman of the Delegation to the EU-Armenia–EU-Azerbaijan and EU-Georgia Parliamentary Cooperation Committees. HE Aritide Agathocls and Kurt Juul respectively represented the Greek Presidency of the European Union and the European Commission.