May 2 2006

YEREVAN, MAY 2, ARMENPRESS: Armenian parliament chairman Arthur
Baghdasarian has confirmed today his earlier remarks that he sees
Armenia's future as a member of the European Union and NATO. In a
late April interview to a German Frankfurter Allgemaine newspaper
Baghdasarian had said Armenia's future was with EU and NATO and that
Russia should not stand on its way towards closer integration with
the West.

Before the opening of a recurrent parliament session today Baghdasarian
was asked by lawmakers to explain his remarks. "My words were about
Armenia's future, and I believe it is the direction (integration
with Europe) Armenia must follow," Baghdasarian said adding that he
is well aware of Armenia's current foreign policy agenda, which does
not embrace Armenia's joining NATO.

Baghdasarian went on to explain that his words were about Armenia's
long-range policy, 'because a country needs from 20 to 30 years to
pass the road of European integration.' "I see the future of Armenia
with EU and not with Russia-Belarus Union," Baghdasarian said.

Baghdasarian argued that Armenia's persistent integration with Europe
does not mean strained relations with Russia. "I am not an advocate
of confronting Russia with western values. If Russia is trying to
deepen its relations with NATO why should Armenia avoid it," he said.

Baghdasarian's remarks were retaliated by president Kocharian who said
in an interview with a local newspaper that Armenia's membership in
the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) and its military and
technical cooperation with Russia were enough to ensure the country's
national security. Baghdasarian reminded today of Armenia's Individual
Partnership Action Plan (IPAP) with NATO, describing it as a' serious
document envisaging institutional and legislative reforms."

Baghdasarian argued there was no difference between his publicly
expressed ideas and those of other two members of the ruling coalition
and the president, but added his Orinats Yerkir would walk out of
the coalition in the event of serious controversies with coalition

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress