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      Talvitie's meeting

Talvitie's meeting   20/02/2004

 PRESS RELEASE
REF: PR/04/02/003

EU Special representative on South Caucasus discusses the situation in the
region

Heikki Talvitie meets Foreign Affairs Committee of the EU Parliament

Brussels, February 20th, 2004  - On February 18th, 2004 Mr. Heikki Talvitie,
the EU special representative for South Caucasus met the Foreign Affairs
Committee of the EU Parliament in order to exchange points of views on the
situation in the South Caucasus.

First of all Mr. Talvitie referred to the Gahrton report on South Caucasus
to be voted on February 26, 2004 at the EP Plenary session and expressed his
satisfaction by qualifying the report as active, positive and enthusiastic.

When speaking about the situation in South Caucasus Mr. Talvitie noted that
the region is in focus due to the recent developments in Georgia. This also
gives an opportunity to the EU to implement new and broader activities in
the region.

During the discussion Mr. Talvitie assured MEP Souladakis (PSE, Greece), who
was concerned about the military presence of Russia and US in the region
that the countries of South Caucasus do not want Russian or US values to be
rooted in their region: "There is no need for military presence in the
region in order to attract the people towards European values". Mr. Talvitie
also thinks that it is too early to speak about international military
presence in the region, but for a successful resolution to the Nagorno
Karabagh conflict a Western-Russian combination may prove a possibility.

Mr. Souladakis emphasized that the political system in the region is not
modern, but rather feudalistic. Mr. Talvitie responded that EU Institutions
do a lot to stimulate the democratization processes in the region. Mr.
Talvitie stressed that the Rose Revolution itself, although very popular is
not a democratic mean and Georgia has to prove its democratic profile. The
elections that led to the victory of president Sahakashvili were very
transparent, but he was supported by literally 99 percent of the population.

 

Mr. Talvitie reminded that the former presidents Gamsakhurdia and
Shavarnadse were popular as well. MEP. Volcic (PSE, Italy) expressed his
concerns about the fact that there is no opposition in Georgia and it is
possible that the opposition will not be represented in Parliament after the
elections of March 2004.

Speaking about the implementation of democratic principles in the region Mr.
Talvitie has noticed that the existence of different civilizations in South
Caucasus should be taken into consideration. Armenians and Georgians are old
Christian nations, i.e. Armenians were the first European nation adopting
Christianity as their State religion in 301, and Georgians in 307, before
Constantine. Notwithstanding, the countries are already at the beginning of
the democratization process, the EU cannot push them to accept European
standards before they are ready for it. Mr. Talvitie believes that the EU
has to support the Minsk group and give positive impulses in order to
enhance their activities.

Mrs. Schleicher (EPP, Germany), has drawn the attention of the MEPs to the
fact that there is a serious energy crisis in the region and the building of
Baku-Tbilisi-Ceihan pipeline will be crucial. Mrs.

Schleicher called on the EU to increase its investment in the region. In
this regard Mr. Talvitie mentioned his meeting with the young Georgian
Minister who told him no one of the 808 employees of the Ministry was
qualified for the required job. Therefore, Mr. Talvitie would like to see
European advisers helping the countries of the region to overcome their
problems.

Mr. Talvitie expressed his concern about the blockade imposed by Turkey on
Armenia. He explained that previously Azerbaijan was restricting Turkey's
freedom of movements. Today the EU-Turkey relations are more important,
though there is still some influence exerted by Azeri side. Anyhow, Mr.
Talvitie hopes that there will be positive developments in this regard.


Assembly of Armenians of Europe
Rue de Treves 10, 1050 Brussels
Tel: +32 2 647 08 01
Fax: +32 2 647 02 00


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