The following are excerpts from the Joint Declaration signed during the ceremony–as supplied by the Press service of the President of Armenia.
2. The European Union stresses the political and economic importance it attaches to the South Caucasus region. It recalls that the PCAs are intended to facilitate the gradual rapprochement of the South Caucasus Republics to a wide area of cooperation in Europe and neighboring regions.
3. The PCAs provide the framework and the basis for the development of a far-reaching partnership with the EU on political–trade and investment issues….We expect the first Co-operation Councils under the PCAs to be held as soon as possible.
4. We emphasize the importance of the rule of law and good governance. The EU undertakes to support the efforts of the republics of the South Caucasus to strengthen democratic institutions and to protect individual human rights…
5. We also recognize that the rule of law and the development of a civil society are essential for a thriving private sector. The EU calls upon the states to create transparent and fair legislative frameworks to enable companies to do business and to attract foreign investment. It is very important that economic legislation and regulations are in harmony with European norms–as foreseen in the PCAs…
6. We recognize that the conflicts in the South Caucasus are impeding the political and economic development of the three states and their cooperation.
We support all efforts of the parties themselves and those carried out in the relevant international forums–namely the OSCE (the Minsk Group for the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the Mission in Georgia–for South Ossetia) and the UN (Special Representative of the UN Secretary General in Georgia–for Abkhazia) to contribute to acceptable solutions in order to normalize political and economic relations and to provide guarantees for the safe return of refugees.
We agree that the conflicts must be resolved through peaceful negotiations and fully respecting existing agreemen’s.
7. The EU considers that the effectiveness of its assistance is connected to the development of the peace process in the region. It therefore stands ready to use its instrumen’s to underpin concrete progress. It attaches particular importance to regional cooperation–post-conflict rehabilitation and reconstruction–and the attraction of investment to former conflict zones…
8. We emphasize the importance of regional cooperation for the creation of amicable relations between the states of the region and for the sustainable development of their economies. We recognize the value of TACIS in this respect and in particular the initiatives the EU has taken through TRACECA and INOGATE.
9. The rehabilitation of transport–telecommunication and other relevant network infrastructure systems in the region–including the Baku-Nakhichevan and Yerevan-Julfa railways and North-South links between Russia and Georgia is a very important confidence-building measure. We agree to create favorable conditions for the reopening of these communication links as soon as possible–and subsequently–as appropriate–of other links between the three states and their neighbors.
10. We reiterate our commitment to implement and to develop further the Basis multilateral Agreement on International Transport for Development of the Europe-Caucasus-Asia Corridor signed in Baku on September 8 1998. The INOGATE conference and the Umbrella Agreement initiated in Brussels on February 17 1999 have provided a framework for the modernization and extension of pipeline networks. These initiatives will bring economic advantages to all countries of the region. The Energy Charter Treaty offers a basis for cooperation in trade–investment and transit-related issues in the energy sector.
11. We consider that secure export routes for Caspian oil and gas will be crucial to the future prosperity of the region–to the foreign companies investing in exploitation of those reserves–and to international markets. The construction of multiple pipelines is therefore logical and desirable–bearing in mind that decisions on the specific routes chosen–and the timing of those decisions–should remain essentially commercial ones for the companies concerned…
13. We shall initiate a periodical political dialogue on a regional basis–as foreseen in Article 5 of the PCAs.
14. The European Union welcomes the accession of Georgia to the Council of Europe. It encourages all South Caucasian countries to bring about the conditions which will allow them to join international institutions–including the Council of Europe and the World Trade Organization–as soon as possible.