YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–Armenian President Robert Kocharian spoke at the "Baltic-Black Sea Cooperation" Summit held in Yalta September 10-11. The following is the text of his speech.
"First of all I would like to express my gratitude to President of Ukraine Leonid Kuchma–who took the initiative of holding the Baltic-Black Sea Cooperation Summit. We welcome any initiative in developing regional cooperation which promotes peace–stability and prosperity of our peoples.
"I am sure that this high forum will give an impetus to the development of mutually advantageous cooperation between our countries both on the bilateral and multilateral bases.
"Today Armenia–overcoming difficulties of the transition period–is persistently developing the process of society’s democratization and economic reforms–which is the basis of our policy.
"Armenia’s geographical location is at the junction of Europe and Asia–in a region where active processes caused by global geopolitical changes of the last decade are still taking place. These circumstances determine the peculiarities of our foreign policy which is based on the complementarity principle. In the context of the forum I would point out two theses of Armenia’s foreign policy: (a) the recognition of the irreversibility of the process of integration into the European structures–Armenia’s identification as part of Europe and search of its role and place in the European structure; (b) benefiting by smoothing over–but not intensifying–global and regional contradictions.
"It is of particular importance to the South Caucasus–where unreasoned actions may result in protracted problems and new dividing lines.
"We are taking effective steps towards closer relations with European countries and structures. The enforcement of the Agreement on Partnership and Cooperation between the European Union and Armenia will give a new quality to these efforts.
"We have gained some experience in regional cooperation within the CIS and BSEC. It is here–in Yalta–that the BSEC latest summit was held–and it can be stated that the development and implementation of some specific projects has started–the Black-Sea Trade and Development Bank–which is supposed to fund these projects–has started operating.
"For the regional cooperation to be fully developed we consider it to be of paramount importance that the current conflicts be settled as soon as possible–and our efforts are aimed at this.
"Unfortunately–it has been one year since the OSCE Minsk Group’s proposals on the Karabakh settlement has hung in mid-air. They have been accepted both by Armenia and by the Nagorno Karabakh Republic–but Azerbaijian has not accepted them so far. And if Azerbaijian had accepted them–the refugee problem–which is equally urgent to Armenia–Azerbaijian and to Nagorno Karabakh–would have been settled a year ago.
"I would like to note that getting involved in new initiatives–expanding and deepening cooperation–working simultaneously on the bilateral level–from regionalization to an integrated Europe–this is the path we are to proceed along together–which will eventually lead to political stability and economic prosperity in our countries. The strengthening of democratic bases and positive changes in our countries’ economies must become main indicators of our cooperation."