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17 May 2005
16 May 2005
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(To be checked against delivered speech)

Speech by Robert Kocharian, President of Armenia

“Armenia is at the beginning of a complex road of European integration. Till the end of this year we are going to fully complete our post-accession obligations with the Council of Europe. This was a difficult but a fruitful process of reforms, which was widely supported by our society.

We look forward to deepen our interaction with the European Union within the framework of "European neighborhood" policy. To us it is an opportunity to continue the political and economic reforms, now under EU auspices. We consider ourselves to be a part of Europe. Our cultural heritage is a part of the European culture. We implement the reforms because they ate deeply grounded in the needs of our state, and not because we want to be commanded by anyone. Perhaps that is why the efficiency of reforms in Armenia has been quite high.

In Armenia people believe in Europe with open borders, without violence, without blockades, without refugees; in Europe where human rights and the right of peoples for free choice are respected, where the present is being build upon objective evaluation of the past. In this context we see the perspective of settlement of the conflict in Nagorno Karabagh. Namely, we look forward to find ways of including the de facto established Republic of Nagorno Karabagh into the European processes of integration. Our efforts aimed at international recognition of the Armenian Genocide committed in the Ottoman Turkey are also explained by our belief in European values. This year we are commemorating the 90th year of those sad events, and we appreciate support of those states which have recognized and condemned that Genocide.

Our summit takes place as we celebrate the 60th anniversary of victory in the World War II. It takes place in a country that among the first suffered from that terrible war. It is very symbolic, since at the same place where Europe was once, decades ago, broken into two parts we today discuss its reintegration. The victory in the World War II saved the world from fascism, but divided Europe. Today, fighting new challenges and threats we shall not only win, but also make sure we do not create new dividing lines, we shall do our best to create the common European architecture of peace and stability.

First of all let me thank President Kwasniewski for the wonderful organization of the summit. I am confident that this meeting of heads of the Council of Europe member-states is extremely well-timed. Europe is in the process of transformation and it creates an urgent need for discussions and adequate measures aimed at reforming the European structures and institutions.

Those changes are of fundamental character. "Eastern Europe" and "Western Europe" are not any more political terms; they have transformed themselves to regular geographic concepts. Meanwhile, the word "Europe" is not anymore simply a geographical name of a continent. It is a political term widely perceived as a unique model of a community of nations. A European is perceived as a member of that community.

In this framework the institutionalization of that process and the psychological adaptation of the Europeans go hand in hand, most probably due to the advancement of information technologies. And the speed of that transformation is so high, that it easily fits within a lifetime of one generation. I sometimes think that what this process has its own logic and does not depend much on politicians.

All this offers questions which require consideration and response. Namely:

- Has the European integration geographical and cultural boundaries and where are they?

- How do the European Union enlargement and further institutionalization affect the demand for other organizations, including the Council of Europe? It is becoming more and more apparent that for European Union member-states our club becomes less and less attractive.

- What is the future of Europe's relations with the rest of the world, which has other suppositions and traditions?

- Are the processes currently underway in Europe going to transform into a new ideology with the consequences to follow in form of a global divide?

Answers to these questions very much depend on the European leaders sitting at this table.