YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–European Commissioner for Foreign Affairs Hans van den Broek’s visit to Armenia is a new step in furthering and strengthening relations between Armenia and the European Union–Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian said at his news conference Tuesday. In return–van den Broek stressed that "the European Union regards Armenia and the entire South Caucasus region as a zone of superpolitical and supereconomic priority."
During his one-day visit to Armenia van den Broek held meetings with the President–Speaker of the Parliament and Foreign Minister. During these meetings–the sides addressed Armenia’s new position on the Karabakh conflict resolution process.
Van den Broek pointed out that the exchange of views with President Kocharian mostly revolved around the Karabakh problem. During the meeting the commissioner assured Kocharian that the European Union promotes the peace-making process within the OSCE Minsk group. "We will contribute to the peaceful solution to this protracted problem–as the solution will promote the stability as well as economic and social development of the region," van den Broek said.
During the meeting with Prime Minister Armen Darbinian–issues addressed were reform programs–technical and financial cooperation between Armenia and the European Union–different support programs as well as energy matters. Issues related to Armenia’s participation in the "TRACECA" and "INOGATE" EU programs were also discussed.
The Commissioner pointed out that some intensification in the relations between Armenia and the European Union can be observed. He said that the interim trade cooperation agreement has already produced results. Van den Broek expressed optimism that the Big Agreement on partnership and cooperation between Armenia and the European Union to come this year or at the beginning of 1999 will further strengthen the relations between Armenia and the European Union.