By Emil Danielyan
Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian met Tuesday in Brussels with the European Union’s top foreign policy makers to discuss Armenia’s political and commercial ties with the world’s most powerful economic grouping, the foreign ministry announced on Wednesday.
The ministry’s press office said Oskanian spoke with the EU’s High Representative For Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana and External Relations Commissioner Chris Patten about economic issues, including Armenia’s “energy security” and easier access to the EU markets.
The energy discussions apparently focused on the eventual closure of Armenia’s Metsamor nuclear power station. The European Commission and leading EU member states have been pushing for the plant’s decommissioning by the end of 2004. The Armenian government, however, insists that it needs several more years to find alternative sources of electricity.
Also on the agenda of Oskanian’s two separate meetings in Brussels was the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and other regional issues. The EU and Armenia take the view that the conflict’s settlement would be facilitated by “confidence-building measures” such as the resumption of railway communication and cross-border commerce between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
However, the Azerbaijani leadership is firmly opposed to that option, arguing that economic contacts would prolong and legitimize Armenian control of Karabakh.
The official press release said Oskanian and Solana also discussed “steps aimed at the improvement of Armenian-Turkish relations.” It gave no further details.