YEREVAN (Armenpress)–"The European direction is one of the priorities of Armenia’s foreign policy and integration into the European family of nations is our deliberate choice," announced Armenia’s president Robert Kocharian on September 12 while meeting with a delegation from the Council of Europe–that was led by Ursula Schleiher–the chairperson of the Council of Europe Constitutional Commission.
President Kocharian was quoted by his press office as saying that Armenia intends to consistently develop bilateral relations with the European countries–as well as participate with different European organizations.
He noted that the signing of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement between Armenia and the European Union gave a new boost to development of cooperation between Armenia and the European countries.
Schleiher also agreed that the Agreement gave a new quality and speed to Armenia’s cooperation with Europe. She said the Council of Europe is interested that Armenia become a full right member of the organization as soon as possible.
President Kocharian noted that Armenia had passed a long route to qualify for the Council of Europe membership and had done a huge volume of work over that period. Kocharian also said that Armenia is for simultaneous membership along with Azerbaijan–but said that the two countries’ membership should not be dependent on either Azerbaijan or Armenia.
Kocharian also dwelt upon the regulation of Karabakh conflict–emphasizing the role of the OSCE Minsk group co-chairmen in this process and appreciating their contribution to the maintenance of the cease-fire regime–established in 1994.
Kocharian also said that Armenia is for establishment and expanding the volume of economic cooperation with Azerbaijan–because " the economic intercommunication–will–undoubtedly–promote formation of an appropriate environment and climate and will also create favorable conditions for seeking mutually acceptable peace formula."
Catholicos Karekin II–head of Armenian Church–said to a visiting European Parliament delegation–led by chairwoman Ursula Schleicher of the Europarliament Constitutional Committee–that he was satisfied with the process of Armenia’s joining the Council of Europe.
He said that Armenia’s membership to the European structures would be instrumental in guaranteeing further development of democracy and strengthening the legal basis of the country. He also appreciated Europe’s efforts which aim at creating a peaceful and mutual understanding in the region.
Catholicos Karekin II also referred to the activity of different religious organizations and groups in Armenia–noting that many of them often violate the legal and moral norms of the country.
His Holiness also referred to the role of the Church in maintaining peace in the region. On that occasion–His Holiness stated that as the Armenian Pontiff–he makes every effort to contribute to the maintenance of peace in the region. He said that a forthcoming meeting with Sheikh-Ul-Islam Pasha-Zade–the spiritual Leader of Azerbaijan–scheduled to take lace in Moscow at the invitation of the Head of the Russian Orthodox Church–pursues the same goal.