Difference between revisions of "European Union"

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the problem,' Oskanian said for his part. `There are positive changes
 
the problem,' Oskanian said for his part. `There are positive changes
 
and today our main task is to be able to use this opportunity and
 
and today our main task is to be able to use this opportunity and
achieve more progress in the process after the [November] parliamentary
+
achieve more progress in the process after the [Novembe
elections in Azerbaijan.'
 
 
 
{{rferl}}
 
 
 
===EU-Turkey & The Armenian Genocide===
 
EU-TURKEY & THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE - PART I
 
Written by Dr Harry Hagopian
 
 
 
Newropeans Magazine, France
 
Oct 24 2005
 
 
 
Audere est Facere!
 
 
 
Calls on Turkey to recognise the Armenian Genocide; considers this
 
recognition to be a pre-requisite for accession to the European Union;
 
European Parliament Resolution (28 September 2005).
 
 
 
Across much of Europe, the last ten months have been buzzing
 
with discussions about the Armenian Genocide. This is not solely
 
because Armenians worldwide have been commemorating in 2005 the
 
90th anniversary of the genocide. Nor is it necessarily because this
 
gruesome chapter in early 20th century history awoke the collective
 
conscience of the world toward recognition. Rather, it is largely
 
due to the ongoing negotiations regarding Turkey's accession to the EU.
 
 
 
It is inevitable that Armenians, and their supporters across the
 
Union, have been pressuring Turkey to come clean on the chapter of
 
their history that deals with the 'Armenian Question' during WWI,
 
and have repeatedly requested from their governments to include the
 
recognition of the genocide as a precondition in their discussions
 
for Turkish accession to the EU. Consequently, this Armenian position
 
has become congruent with that of the European Parliament as evidenced
 
by its latest Resolution of 28th September in Strasbourg.
 
 
 
On 3 October 2005, the EU and Turkey finally signed a negotiating
 
framework that would allow formal talks and screening processes
 
to begin on Turkish membership of the European Club. There was
 
the obligatory last-minute brinkmanship, with Austria demanding
 
the insertion of an additional clause that referred to privileged
 
partnership rather than full membership. However, this objection
 
was overcome with a Croatian compromise, and the question now is to
 
explore what happens in the next ten to fifteen years when negotiations
 
between the EU and Turkey cover the 35 chapters (including judiciary
 
and fundamental rights as well as justice, freedom and security,
 
in chapters 23 & 24 respectively) and Turkey's need to adapt its
 
political, economic and social system in such a manner that it
 
implements 80,000 pages of EU laws. This, after all, is the EU-Turkey
 
political dossier today, and the critical period in the years ahead
 
will decide between an EU that insists upon the candidate country
 
Turkey to accept the acquis comminautaire of the Union or a Turkey
 
that dictates more or less its own terms of accession to the EU.
 
 
 
Principle 6 of the EU Negotiating Framework for Turkey clearly
 
stipulates that the advancement of negotiations will be guided by
 
Turkey's progress in preparing for accession. Such progress would
 
include the Copenhagen criteria (with the stability of institutions
 
guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights and respect
 
for and protection of minorities) as much as Turkey's 'unequivocal
 
commitment to good neighbourly relations and its undertaking to resolve
 
any outstanding border disputes in accordance with the United Nations
 
Charter, including if necessary jurisdiction of the International Court
 
of Justice'. Olli Rehn, European Commissioner for Enlargement, told
 
the European Parliament earlier that "the start of the negotiations
 
will give a strong push for those in Turkey who want to reform the
 
country to meet the European values of rule of law and human rights;
 
they are also a way for the EU to have leverage on the direction of
 
these reforms".
 
 
 
But let me recap for a moment. On 22nd September, I attended a
 
conference in Brussels entitled December 2004-October 2005: Has Turkey
 
changed? During the final plenary session, the discussions led to the
 
unavoidable conclusion that the EU Commission was doing its utmost to
 
justify the start of accession talks despite an implicit admission
 
that Turkey had not yet met all the criteria for the start-up of
 
negotiations. This EU position could prove disconcerting if it were to
 
accentuate the yawning chasm between the political decisions adopted
 
by the EU institutions (namely the Commission and Council) and the
 
European population across the whole Union. After all, a recent
 
Eurobarometer poll revealed that only 35% of EU citizens support
 
Turkish membership, and yet the EU institutions are not heeding
 
to the concerns of their constituencies but are proving why the
 
'disconnect' is growing alarmingly larger between an institutional
 
and bureaucratic Union and its peoples. In fact, this phenomenon
 
became abundantly evident when France and the Netherlands rejected
 
the EU draft constitution on 29 May and 1 June 2005 respectively as an
 
instrument - with much merit, I still maintain - that was nonetheless
 
being imposed upon the European peoples without adequate consultation,
 
coherence, transparency or feedback. (To be continued 25/10/05)
 
 
 
http://www.newropeans-magazine.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=2873&Itemid=84
 
 
 
EU-TURKEY & THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE - PART II
 
Written by Dr Harry Hagopian
 
 
 
Newropeans Magazine, France
 
Oct 25 2005
 
 
 
Calls on Turkey to recognise the Armenian Genocide; considers this
 
recognition to be a pre-requisite for accession to the European Union;
 
European Parliament Resolution (28 September 2005).
 
 
 
II. But what about the Armenian Genocide in the overall context of
 
EU-Turkey dossier?
 
 
 
There have been quite a few developments within Turkey that have
 
highlighted the inherent paradoxes of the Turkish mindset on this human
 
rights issue. There has also been a tug-of-war between progressives
 
and reactionaries on the one hand, and between the small minority
 
of Turks openly addressing the issue of the genocide and an ignorant
 
or fearful majority who maintain the denial that has typified Turkey
 
for the past 90 years.
 
 
 
One of the most prominent issues in the past few months that highlights
 
Turkey's non-EU credentials to date as much as its paranoia about
 
the Armenian Genocide, is the case of Orhan Pamuk, one of Turkey's
 
most acclaimed contemporary writers. On 1st September, a district
 
prosecutor indicted Pamuk under Article 301(1) of the Turkish penal
 
code for having 'blatantly belittled Turkishness" by his "denigrating"
 
remarks. Pamuk's crime was to have given an interview in the Swiss
 
Tages Anzeiger newspaper on 6th February stating that Turkey was
 
responsible for the deaths of 1 million Armenians and 30,000 Kurds
 
during WWI but that nobody within the country dared speak about this
 
genocide. If convicted at his trial that starts on 16th December, Pamuk
 
could well face up to three years in gaol. Article 301/1 of the Turkish
 
penal code states that 'a person who explicitly insults being a Turk,
 
the Republic or Turkish Grand National Assembly, shall be sentenced
 
to a penalty of imprisonment for a term of six months to three years
 
... Where insulting being a Turk is committed by a Turkish citizen
 
in a foreign country, the penalty shall be increased by one third'.
 
 
 
This case came almost at the same time as that of Hrant Dink,
 
editor of the bilingual Agos magazine who received a suspended
 
six-month sentence in Istanbul on 7th October for writing a column
 
that allegedly insulted Turkey, and for telling an audience in 2002
 
that he was not a Turk but an Armenian of Turkey. According to PEN
 
International, fifty writers, journalists and publishers currently
 
face trials in Turkey. The International Publishers' Association,
 
in its deposition to the UN, has also described the revised Turkish
 
penal code as being 'deeply flawed'. It is questionable how a country
 
such as Turkey that has ratified both the UN International Covenant
 
on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the European Convention on
 
Human Rights (ECHR) could flout the fundamental freedom of expression
 
and continue to enforce a penal code that is contrary to such universal
 
and EU-friendly principles. No wonder therefore that Fethiye Cetin,
 
Dink's lawyer, averred that the ruling against her client showed
 
how little had changed under Turkey's new criminal code, despite
 
international and internal pressures.
 
 
 
With those Turkish manoeuvres, Orhan Pamuk and Hrant Dink have joined
 
a long list of cognoscenti and literati such as Kemal Tahir and
 
Fakir Baykurt who have been muzzled by the state for expressing their
 
viewpoints. Numerous international bodies, such as the Commissioners
 
of the US Helsinki Commission, have sent letters to the Turkish Prime
 
Minister calling upon him to authorise the dropping of charges against
 
the writer. In an Opinion in the Turkish Daily News, Semih Ydyz wrote
 
critically, "Anti-EU forces that are using the legal system to bound
 
people like Orhan Pamuk and Hrant Dink may believe they are doing a
 
great service to the country. They don't realise, however, that they
 
are doing the opposite ... They are exposing the outmoded system of
 
thought for what it is and forcing progressive Turks to rally around
 
principles like respect for freedom of thought".
 
 
 
This Turkish imbedded sense of nationalism, dissimilar to patriotism,
 
was manifested again in the deferrals of an international conference
 
entitled Ottoman Armenians in the Period of the Collapse of the Empire:
 
Issues of Scientific Responsibility and Democracy. Many people, from
 
the Turkish Minister of Justice to a lawyer from one of the districts
 
of Istanbul, tried twice to cancel this conference.
 
 
 
However, it finally took place at Bilgi University in Istanbul on
 
24th September. As the Economist wrote in an article entitled Too
 
soon for Turkish delight on 29th September, "For Turks who want a
 
European future, there was a dollop of hope last weekend, when brave
 
historians managed to hold a conference in Istanbul to discuss the fate
 
of the Ottoman Armenians. It was the first time Turkish pundits were
 
permitted to challenge publicly the official line, holding that the
 
mass deportation of Armenians in 1915 did not amount to a conspiracy
 
to kill them. As participants read out letters between the 'Young
 
Turks' then ruling the empire, a rapt audience was left with no doubt
 
that hundreds of thousands of Armenians were deliberately slain". In
 
the words of Halil Berktay, coordinator of the history department
 
at Sabanci University and participant at the conference, 'This is
 
a country of more than 70 million, with a strong nationalist past;
 
there are strong forces opposed to the European Union, to democracy
 
and opening up'. Berktay added that 'the question of what happened in
 
1915-1916 is not a mystery, it's not like we know just 5 percent, so
 
the question is not finding more evidence. The question is liberating
 
scholarship from the nationalist taboos ...'
 
 
 
Fatma Muge Gocek, a sociologist at the University of Michigan and
 
advisor to the conference, said that 'Turkey has to confront its
 
history, and the fact of the violence of 1915 and 1916, and lack
 
of accountability, sanctioned more [state] violence'. Equally, Elif
 
Shafak, a social scientist and renowned novelist whose works include
 
The Flea Palace and who recently captured the cultural voices of
 
Turkey in Street of the Cauldron Makers (Kazanci Yokushu), published
 
an editorial in the Washington Post on 25th September entitled In
 
Istanbul, a Crack in the Wall of Denial. She wrote, "I also got to
 
know other Turks who were making a similar intellectual journey.
 
 
 
Obviously there is still a powerful segment of Turkish society
 
that completely rejects the charge that Armenians were purposely
 
exterminated. Some even go so far as to claim that it was Armenians
 
who killed Turks, and so there is nothing to apologise for. These
 
nationalist hardliners include many of our government officials,
 
bureaucrats, diplomats and newspaper columnists. They dominate Turkey's
 
public image - but theirs is only one position held by Turkish
 
citizens, and it is not even the most common one. The prevailing
 
attitude of ordinary people toward the 'Armenian question' is not
 
one of conscious denial; rather it is collective ignorance.
 
 
 
These Turks feel little need to question the past as long as it does
 
not affect their daily lives". Shafak concluded her editorial about the
 
conference, "Whatever happens with the conference, I believe one thing
 
remains true: Through the collective efforts of academics, journalists,
 
writers and media correspondents, 1915 is being opened to discussion
 
in my homeland [Turkey] as never before. The process is not an easy
 
one and will disturb many vested interests. I know how hard it is -
 
most children from diplomatic families, confronting negative images
 
of Turkey abroad, develop a sort of defensive nationalism, and it's
 
especially true among those of us who lived through the years of
 
Armenian terrorism. But I also know that the journey from denial to
 
recognition is one that can be made".
 
 
 
As Begle, another Turkish historian and a contemporary of Selim
 
Beligir, opined much along the same lines during the conference in
 
Istanbul, "The younger generation in Turkey knows nothing about the
 
events in the early 20th century and the reason is the educational
 
system. [] The Armenian Question is one of the darkest pages of our
 
history, and naturally no one wants to admit it. People who want to
 
revisit and discuss the problem gave gathered in this university".
 
 
 
Another speaker at the conference, historian Fikret Adanir, stated
 
outright that the killings constituted genocide whilst Cengiz Candar,
 
a prominent columnist for the Bugun newspaper in Turkey wrote, "The
 
judiciary is one of the most reactionary and backward institutions
 
in Turkey, and the illegal [court] verdi
 
 
 
(truncated!)
 
 
 
----
 
EUROPEAN ARMENIAN FEDERATION
 
for Justice & Democracy
 
Avenue de la Renaissance 10
 
B-1000 Bruxelles
 
Tel: +322 732 70 26
 
Tel/Fax:+322 732 70 27
 
Email: contact@eafjd.org
 
 
 
 
 
PRESS RELEASE
 
For immediate release
 
October 26th, 2005
 
Contact :Talline Tachdjian
 
Tel :+322 732 70 26
 
 
 
EUROPEAN COMMISSION TAKES UNPRECEDENTED STEP OF CALLING ON TURKEY TO
 
ACKNOWLEDGE THE ARMENIAN GENOCIDE
 
 
 
--  Request Represents the First Time the Commission has Directly Pressed
 
Ankara to end its Campaign of Armenian Genocide Denial --
 
 
 
Brussels, Belgium (26 October 2005) - In an unprecedented move welcomed
 
by the European Armenian Federation, the President of the European
 
Commission, Jose Manuel Barroso, has directly called upon Turkey to
 
acknowledge the Armenian Genocide.
 
 
 
During a recent speech at Harvard University (United States),
 
Mr. Barroso stressed that, "We should bear in mind that Turkey is
 
an important state and has great potential from the viewpoint of the
 
social and economic future of Europe. However the problem of Kurds and
 
national minorities still remains a very delicate matter for Turkey.
 
National minorities in Turkey constantly face infringement of their
 
human rights."
 
 
 
In his remarks about European relations with Turkey, Mr Barroso stated
 
that Ankara is developing relations with Greece and should adopt a
 
similarly constructive approach toward Armenia. He explained that,
 
"Turks should acknowledge the reality of the Armenian Genocide.
 
Orhan Pamuk's case is an inadmissible step from the standpoint of
 
freedom of speech. Turkey should refrain from simplified attitude
 
towards the Armenian issue. Europeans dislike the words 'there was
 
no Genocide.' Ankara's best move would be the acknowledgment of the
 
Armenian Genocide and opening the borders with Armenia."
 
 
 
"We welcome the unprecedented statement by Mr. Barroso as both
 
a reflection of true European values and a return to a principled
 
approach on the part of the European Commission and the European Union.
 
With this declaration by the Commission's president, the three main
 
bodies of the E.U. - the Parliament, Commission and Council - have
 
all taken a common stand - a firm position that can no longer be
 
ignored by Turkey," said Hilda Tchoboian, chairwoman of the European
 
Armenian Federation.
 
 
 
"We expect that this renewed determination on the part of European
 
institutions will impress upon Turkey that regional peace and stability
 
requires that Turkey come to terms with its responsibilities for
 
the Armenian Genocide," she continued. "As a next step, we will work
 
toward the Commission incorporating these demands into the relevant
 
chapters of the Acquis and into screening procedure for Turkey's EU
 
application," concluded Tchoboian.
 

Revision as of 19:52, 17 April 2007

European union flag.

The European Parliament is the decision making body of the European Union.


EU Lawmakers Insist On Turkish Recognition Of Armenian Genocide
By Emil Danielyan 5, September 2006

A key committee of the European Parliament insisted late Monday that recognition of the Armenian genocide must be a precondition for Turkey’s membership in the European Union and urged Ankara to normalize relations with Yerevan.

In a report adopted by 53 votes in favor to 6 against with 8 abstentions, the Committee on Foreign Affairs reaffirmed the EU assembly’s earlier resolutions that described the 1915-1918 mass killings and deportations of Armenians in the Ottoman Turkey as genocide.

The committee condemned as “racist and xenophobic” a government-connected group that rallied thousands of nationalist Turks in France and Germany last spring to protest against a growing number of European countries recognizing the genocide. It urged Ankara to ban the group named after Talaat Pasha, one of the three top leaders of Ottoman Turkey’s last government whom historians regard as the main mastermind of the massacres.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan rejected the EU parliamentarians’ demands on Tuesday. "We announced this before. That is, to expect us to change (our stance) is simply chasing a dream," state news agency Anatolian quoted Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan as saying, according to Reuters.

"Our decisiveness on the subject of the so-called Armenian genocide is the same today as it was in the past. Nobody should expect us to change this," Erdogan said, adding the decisions taken by the European Parliament are not binding.

"We are dismayed by efforts aiming to impose preconditions that are far from objective on questions that require serious academic inquiry," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a communique.

The Turkish government has rejected similar resolutions adopted by the European Parliament in the past. The most recent of those resolutions, passed in September 2005, said Turkish recognition of the genocide is a “prerequisite for accession to the European Union.”

The latest report, which deplores Turkey’s lack of progress in implementing reforms needed to join the EU, is due to be debated by the full European Parliament later this year. It calls on Turkey to drop its preconditions for opening the land border and establishing diplomatic relations with Armenia.

The European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy, a Brussels-based lobbying group, welcomed the proposed resolution. “We congratulate the rapporteur and the many members of Parliament who reaffirmed the political line of the Parliament, which makes the recognition of the Genocide a prerequisite for accession," its chairwoman, Hilda Tchoboian, said in a statement.

Still, Tchoboian disagreed with another provision of the report that effectively endorses Ankara’s proposal to set up a commission of Turkish and Armenian historians that would study the events of 1915-1918.

The proposal, made by Erdogan last year, was rejected by Armenia. In a written response to the Turkish premier, President Robert Kocharian said that this and other issues hampering a Turkish-Armenian rapprochement should be tackled by the two governments, rather than historians.


EU Parliament Insists On Armenian Genocide Recognition By Turkey

By Emil Danielyan 09/28/2005

The European Parliament reiterated on Wednesday that Turkey's accession to the European Union must be conditional, among other things, on its recognition of the 1915-1918 mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire as genocide.

The EU legislature adopted by 356 votes in favor, 181 against and 125 abstentions a resolution that `calls on Turkey to recognize the Armenian genocide' and `considers this recognition to be a prerequisite for accession to the European Union.'

The resolution, which also demands that Ankara recognize Cyprus, came ahead of membership talks between the EU and Turkey that are due to open on Monday. It is not binding for the 25-nation bloc's executive European Commission and member governments. But it does reflect growing unease about the prospect of a large Muslim country joining the EU.

It is not the first time that the European Parliament urges Turkey to end its long-running denial of the Armenian genocide. All of its previous genocide resolutions were angrily condemned by Ankara.

"That resolution is not binding,' Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said, reacting to its passage later on Wednesday. `It does not matter whether they took such a decision or not. We will continue on our way,' private CNN-Turk television quoted him as saying during a visit to Abu Dhabi.

But the European Armenian Federation, a Brussels-based lobbying group, was quick to welcome the Strasbourg-based parliament's statement. `This latest appeal by the European Parliament ahead of the negotiations with Turkey must serve as a guideline for the European Council and the European Commission,' its chairman, Hilda Tchoboian, said in a statement.

`We therefore call on the EU foreign ministers to touch upon the genocide issue during their meeting in Luxembourg on October 3,' she added.

Of all the EU member states only France has so far demanded that genocide recognition be a necessary condition for Turkish entry into the EU. President Jacques Chirac expressed hope last December that the Turks will do some `memory work' on the subject. But other EU officials have made it clear that while genocide recognition could be on the agenda of the upcoming accession talks it will not be a precondition for their successful outcome.


Federation of Armenian Organizations in The Netherlands (FAON)
April 24 Committee For Recognition and Commemoration of the Armenian Genocide of 1915
Address: Weesperstraat 91 - 2574 VS Den Haag
Tel. 070 4490209
Contact: M. Hakhverdian
Website: http://24aprilcomite.ontheweb.nl
E-mail: april24committee@wanadoo.nl
K.v.K. 27

A report by I. Drost of the meeting of Standing Committee on European and Foreign Affairs of the Dutch parliament with the minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Ben Bot on the meeting of European Foreign Ministers beginning of September, where the EU negotiation framework with Turkey will be discussed. At this meeting Mr. Bot declared that the negotiation framework for Turkey includes Armenian Genocide issue.

Bot: Negotiation Framework for Turkey includes Armenian genocide

The Hague, 1 September 2005 - Yesterday, in a Parliament meeting, Dutch Foreign Minister Ben Bot assured the members of parliament that the matter of the Armenian genocide is already a part of the framework for negotiations with Turkey.

Mr. Bot said so in reaction to the urgent request of several factions to adopt the recognition of the Armenian genocide in the negotiation framework. In this context he referred to the commitment of good neighbourly relations and undertaking to resolve any outstanding border disputes in a peaceful settlement, as mentioned in the draft negotiation framework.

On Chritian Union MP Rouvoet's explicit question if he understood correctly that facing the own history and in particular the Armenian Genocide are also meant in this wording, Mr. Bot answered in the affirmative. He also confirmed that this is the European approach of this matter and that Turkey is very much aware of this requirement.

Mr Bot did not expect any problems, like we have now with Cyprus, as a result of the implicit wording, because it is the standing approach within EU and EU itself is master of the ratification process. Finally, the Minister gave the guarantee that he himself will always be committed to these statements.


Armenia Lauds Genocide Resolution By EU Parliament

By Anna Saghabalian

Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian commended the European Parliament on Thursday for its renewed calls for Turkey to recognize the 1915 massacres of Armenians as genocide and normalize relations with Armenia.

A resolution adopted by the EU legislature in Strasbourg on Wednesday `calls on Turkey to recognize the Armenian genocide' and `considers this recognition to be a prerequisite for accession to the European Union.' It also urges Turkey to open its border with Armenia without preconditions.

`We assess that resolution positively and consider it natural,' said Oskanian. `If Turkey wants to be a member of the European Union, it must behave like an EU country. That means it must have open borders with Armenia and openly confront its past and accept what happened in 1915.'

Ankara's reaction to the non-binding resolution was diametrically opposite, with Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan saying that it will not affect his government's position on the issue. Turkey is expected to start its long-awaited accession talks with the EU on Monday.

Yerevan wants the EU make Turkey's membership conditional on the recognition of the Armenian genocide and the lifting of the blockade imposed on Armenia in 1993. But EU officials say while the Armenian demands will be on the agenda of the accession talks, they are not a precondition for Turkish entry into the union.



Armenia, EU To Start Delayed Talks On Joint Action Plan

By Anna Saghabalian

The European Union will open negotiations with Armenia within one month on concrete actions stemming from its inclusion in a program envisaging privileged ties with the bloc, a senior EU envoy said on Thursday.

The talks on the `action plan' for Armenia within the framework of the EU's European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) were scheduled to start earlier this month but were put off indefinitely. Heikki Talvitie, the EU's special representative to the South Caucasus, revealed that the delay was caused by a dispute between Azerbaijan and `one EU country,' presumably Cyprus.

The internationally recognized government of Cyprus is angry at Baku's recent decision to establish direct contacts with the Turkish-occupied north of the island. Official Nicosia is reportedly blocking the start of talks on a similar action plan for Azerbaijan, which was also included in the ENP along with Georgia last year.

Talvitie, in Yerevan on yet another tour of the region, explained that the Azerbaijani-Cypriot dispute has affected Armenia and Georgia because the EU wanted to show a `balanced approach' and start the ENP talks with the three South Caucasus states simultaneously. `We have one month settle the problem and start consultations simultaneously with the three countries,' he said. `If we fail to resolve it, we will start consultations with those countries that are ready [for the process].'

`Armenia has really done a good job preparing for this process,' the diplomat added. `We are confident that we can implement a good action plan with Armenia.'

The plan is expected to be based on a report which was released by the EU's executive European Commission in March. The 30-page document calls for democratic elections, the rule of law, respect for human rights, anti-corruption measures as well as further economic reforms in Armenia.

The issue featured large during Talvitie's meetings on Thursday with President Robert Kocharian and Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian. The latter said over the weekend that the ENP `brings Armenia back home.'

Speaking at a joint news conference with Oskanian, Talvitie reaffirmed EU support for Kocharian's package of amendments to the Armenian constitution which is due to be put to a referendum in November. `We do not want to take part in your referendum, but we support these changes and think they would be a very serious tool in the hands of both the government and the opposition,' he said.

The unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was also on the agenda of the talks. Talvitie arrived in Yerevan from Baku where he discussed the issue with Azerbaijani leaders. The envoy urged the conflicting parties to build on progress in the peace process made over the past year.

`The overall evaluation is that there is a momentum for a settlement of the problem,' Oskanian said for his part. `There are positive changes and today our main task is to be able to use this opportunity and achieve more progress in the process after the [Novembe