By Astghik Bedevian
The first Armenian parliamentarian to visit the Azerbaijani capital since 2001 described as ‘unprecedented’ the security measures taken by the local authorities to ensure the Armenian delegate’s participation in the meeting of a regional cooperation organization.
Stepan Safarian, of the Heritage faction at the Armenian National Assembly, was recently in Baku to participate in the meeting of the Council on Culture and Social Affairs of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC).
“They did their best to look hospitable and polite. I did not have any problems,” Safarian said during a press conference in Yerevan on Tuesday.
He added that even the country’s media were not notified about the visit of an Armenian parliamentary.
According to Safarian, the Karabakh issue did not come up during any of his discussions in Baku. “But of course we spoke about regional cooperation, discussed different events in the region at dinner,” he said.
According to Safarian, the main activity in Baku included the preparation of reports on member countries that will be published during the plenary session of the BSEC Parliamentary Assembly in Georgia on November 19-21.
The subject of the report for all participants was the same -- improvement of the quality of life in the BSEC member countries.
The report dealing with Armenia was drawn by an Azerbaijani delegate and Safarian says he proposed a few corrections in that report.
“I don’t say the part of the report dealing with Armenia is bad for Armenia. But the problem is that the Azerbaijani delegate who worked on the report borrowed information about Armenia from different reports presented by Armenia within the framework of different organizations,” he said. “I think it could have been better.”
According to Safarian, by means of corrections he managed to introduce some changes, in particular a change reassuring that Armenia is committed to the goal of meeting European standards. At the same time, Safarian admits that the report contains little information about the education system in Armenia.
In any case, Safarian says, the reader can understand what integration processes Armenia experiences, but admits that against the background of some assessments made in the report, it does not leave “the best” impression with the reader. In any case, according to the Armenian parliamentary, similar reports at such organizations do not have political or legal consequences.
The BSEC, which currently embraces 12 members, was established in 1992 with the declared goal of fostering economic interaction and initiative and ensuring peace and stability in the Black Sea region. Armenia was among the founding members of the organization whose membership is not restricted to countries which have access to the Black Sea. Among the member countries like Armenia that have no coastline on the Black Sea are also Albania, Azerbaijan, Greece, Moldova and Serbia.