outh Caucasus Parliamentary Initiative (SCPI)

Press Release

The first Plenary Assemblyof the

South Caucasus Parliamentary Initiative *

Scotland, 16-20 December 2003

The first Plenary Assembly of the South Caucasus Parliamentary Initiative (SCPI) ended in Scotland on Saturday 20th December 2003 with the adoption by the participating delegations from the Parliaments of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia of a Final Resolution and a programme of work for the coming six months. The meeting marked the successful end of a three year effort to create an ongoing framework for Parliamentary dialogue between the Parliaments of the three South Caucasus countries that was launched by the British non governmental organisation LINKS in March 2001. As from 1st January 2004 the work of the South Caucasus Parliamentary Initiative will be led by a rotating Presidency, with each of the three parliaments holding the Presidency for six months.

In a symbolic ceremony held at the end of the Scotland meeting LINKS handed over the symbol of office to the head of the Georgian delegation, and Deputy Speaker of the Georgian Parliament, Mr Vakhtang Kolbaia. Armenia will take over the Presidency on 1st July 2004, followed by Azerbaijan on 1st January 2005. A programme of work of the Georgian Presidency was also approved in Scotland.

The Meeting of the Plenary Assembly was opened on Wednesday 17th December in Edinburgh by the Speaker of the Parliament of Scotland, the Honourable George Reid. The meeting was also addressed by the Special Representative of the United Kingdom Government to the South Caucasus, Sir Brian Fall, and representatives of the European Parliament, the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the Baltic Parliamentary Assembly.

In the framework of the meeting in Scotland a meeting took place between the Parliaments of Armenia and Azerbaijan. This was the first ever formal face to face meeting between the two parliaments and focussed on the Karabakh conflict. At the end of the meeting the two delegations pledged themselves to a peaceful solution of the conflict and recognised the urgency of dealing with this conflict that was causing suffering to hundreds of thousands of people and was an obstacle to progress and development in the entire South Caucasus. The two Parliaments agreed to continue their contacts within the SCPI framework and to introduce a programme of confidence building measures aimed at renewing trust.

The Plenary Assembly of SCPI will now meet every six months, with a meeting of the Presidium every three months. The Secretariat of SCPI is now also fully operational. At the request of the three Parliaments LINKS will provide a Special Advisor to the rotating Presidency for the next eighteen months. The Special Advisor and his office will act as a facilitator to the process.

For further information please contact:

In London: Stephen Nash at LINKS (Tel +442077352080 or stnash_links_london@msn.com)

In Tbilisi: Lasha Darsalia at Caucasus Links (Tel +99532292399 or links@caucasus.net)

In Georgian Parliament: Eka Gegeshidze at the Parliament of Georgia (tel +99599586963)

Final Declaration

The Plenary Assembly of the South Caucasus Parliamentary Initiative was held in Scotland 16-20 December 2003. Parliamentary delegations from Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia attended the meeting.

The meeting reviewed political events in the three countries in 2003 and particularly the process of elections held in all three countries. The delegations of the three parliaments reiterate their commitment to work to enhance democratic values and principles and to hasten the process of full compliance of their countries with the norms and commitments they signed up to when they joined the Council of Europe and the OSCE.

We, the participants of the Plenary Assembly of the South Caucasus Parliamentary Initiative reaffirm our determination to push forward with our desire to integrate the South Caucasus fully into the European family. We note with gratitude the support recently expressed by the European Parliament for the inclusion of the South Caucasus in the European Union’s „New Neighbours“ policy. We declare our intention to make enhanced relations between the region of the South Caucasus and the European institutions a priority for our work.

In the Plenary Assembly we discussed issues related to peace and security in the South Caucasus and the relations between the region, its neighbours other interested countries. We call for increased efforts on the part of the international community, our governments and other interested parties, to find peaceful solutions to the unresolved conflicts in the South Caucasus. We recognise that these conflicts hinder progress in our region and are an obstacle to the development of the full potential of our countries and our people. Therefore we will also increase our efforts for their early settlement.

We will maintain dialogue between ourselves, and with other interested parties on peace and conflict issues in the South Caucasus. We welcome the results of the Armenian-Azerbaijani Parliamentary Round Table discussion on peace and conflict issues in the South Caucasus held within the framework of the Assembly meeting (See separate statement). The process will continue with a roundtable meeting focusing on the conflicts in the Abkhazia and South Ossetia Regions of Georgia scheduled for 2004.

Our meeting reviewed the work of SCPI, and particularly its activity since the signing in May 2003 of the Memorandum of Understanding between the three parliaments, which established the initiative as an ongoing process for dialogue and joint analysis between the three parliaments. We welcome the fact that a system of rotating chairmanship between the three parliaments will be introduced as of 1st January 2004. We wish success to the Parliament of Georgia who will take over the Presidency at that point. We reviewed and approved the programme of work of the Georgian Presidency and are satisfied that it will enhance the work of SCPI.

We are grateful for the work of the non governmental organisation LINKS who launched the idea of SCPI three years ago and has chaired the process until now. We welcome the continued involvement of LINKS in the new role of Special Advisor to the Rotating Presidency, as well as their facilitation of meetings on peace and conflict issues in the South Caucasus.

We thank the members of the SCPI Secretariat for their work and commend them for their professionalism and commitment.

A process of continuing parliamentary dialogue in the South Caucasus looked a few years ago like a desired but elusive objective. The South Caucasus Parliamentary Initiative is now a reality despite the scepticism of some. We are grateful to our international partners who have shown support to us in our work, and particularly the Government and Parliament of the United Kingdom for their continuing support, and the Baltic Parliamentary Assembly and the Parliaments of the Baltic States for their constant engagement with our process.

We are touched by the sincere friendship shown to us by the people of Scotland during our meeting here. The fact that we have to hold our meeting so far away from our countries is an indication of the problems that we have yet to overcome. By their warm welcome and generous hospitality the people of Scotland have been an example to us and our work. We are grateful to the Presiding Officer and Members of the Parliament of Scotland for their efforts to make our meeting a success, as well as to the people of Edinburgh and Speyside for their welcome.

Programme of the Georgian Presidency
January – June 2004

Adopted at the Closing Session of the Plenary Assembly

The South Caucasus Parliamentary Initiative has the broad support of a wide spectrum of political forces in Georgia. Despite the present challenging political circumstances the Georgian Parliament is honoured to take over the rotating chairmanship of the South Caucasus Parliamentary Initiative and indeed to be the first of the three parliaments to assume this responsibility.

The Parliament of Georgia will endeavour to fulfil the obligations given to us by this office. We will also make a full contribution to the realisation of the objectives of SCPI.

The Georgian Presidency will in the period 1 January 2004-30 June 2004 focus on creating proper conditions for further co-operation and gradual integration of the countries of the South Caucasus into European institutions. The Georgian Presidency will organise the visit of a delegation of the Presidium of SCPI to European institutions in Brussels and Strasbourg in April 2004. Prior to that we will work to build agreement between the three parliaments for a harmonised approach to issues of compliance with norms and obligations resulting from the membership of our three countries of the Council of Europe and the OSCE, as well as the Partnership and Co-operation Agreements and other arrangements with the European Union. This co- ordinated approach to Europe is necessary if the region of the South Caucasus is to benefit from the important processes going on in Europe at present as a result of the enlargement of the European Union and the launch of the European Union’s „New Neighbours Policy“. It is clear that the European Union seeks a stable and well integrated partner in the South Caucasus and a co-ordinated approach will send a strong signal that this partnership is possible. The Georgian Presidency will ensure that issues to be raised in our contacts with European institutions will be well co-ordinated with the three Parliaments.

The Georgian Presidency will take all appropriate steps to implement the decisions taken in the plenary and Presidium meeting s of SCPI in Scotland. During the course of its presidency the Georgian side will produce a more permanent set of bye laws can be approved. The Georgian Presidency will continue to work closely with LINKS and will use the experience of this organisation in its work. The two sides will in the first days of the Georgian Presidency sign a joint protocol that will regulate their co-operation. In this regard the Georgian presidency will endeavour to create the right conditions for the work of the Office of the Special Advisor to the Rotating Presidency.

The Georgian side will contribute towards the development of the work of the SCPI Secretariat. The Georgian Presidency will publish the Directory of the parliaments of the South Caucasus, as a resource for our Parliamentarians and those who want to work with them. The publication, in Russian and English will also include useful statistical data.

During its Presidency the Georgian side will convene meetings of the Plenary Assembly, the Presidium and the Secretariat of SCPI as necessary, and in full consultation with the other members of the Initiative. The Georgian Presidency will organise the next Plenary Meeting of SCPI at a venue in Georgia in June 2004. We will invite delegations from European institutions to join us at this meeting.

We will launch the work of the three working groups established by the Memorandum of Understanding between the three Parliaments signed on 13 May 2003.

As part of the process of roundtable discussions on peace and conflict issues in the South Caucasus the Georgians side, with the facilitation of LINKS will convene a round table meeting focussing on the conflicts in the Abkhazia and South Ossetia Regions of Georgia.

The Georgian Presidency hopes that in the six months that it will hold the Chairmanship of SCPI this regional forum that we have established together will be stronger and more efficient and will be an instrument that can contribute towards peace, stability and prosperity in the region. We will hand over the Rotating Presidency to our Armenian colleagues on 1st July 2004.

Approved as the closing session of the Plenary Assembly of SCPI, Scotland, 20 December 2003.

Statement by the delegations of the Parliaments of
Armenia and Azerbaijan

at the end of their meeting in Scotland on 20th December 2003 in the framework of the South Caucasus Parliamentary Initiative

In the framework of the South Caucasus Parliamentary Initiative, an Armenian – Azerbaijani Parliamentary meeting was held in Scotland on 20th December 2003. The meeting focussed on peace and conflict issues in the South Caucasus, with particular reference to Nagorny Karabakh.

The two delegations exchanged views in a frank and open way on the different perspectives for the resolution of the conflict over Nagorny Karabakh and other issues.

  1. The two delegations consider that this new process of face to face dialogue between them is very useful and agree that this dialogue should be continued in the future in the present format.
  2. The two delegations declare that they recognise that the unresolved conflict is causing human suffering and is hindering progress and development in the whole of the South Caucasus. There is therefore an urgency that the conflict be resolved to the satisfaction of all sides.
  3. The two delegations declare that the only way forward is through the peaceful resolution of the conflict as a result of negotiation.
  4. The two delegations welcome the recent meeting held in Geneva between President Robert Kocharian of Armenia and President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan. This meeting continues the process of dialogue between the two Presidents, but given the elections held in the two countries earlier this year it also heralds a new stage in the process of negotiation.
  5. The delegations recognise the important role that the two parliaments have in the process of building peace in the South Caucasus. We will do everything in our power to assist the work of the Presidents and the international community in this regard.
  6. The two countries share European norms and values and a desire for closer integration with European institutions. In order to show our good will towards each other, and hasten the process towards resolving the conflict, we will implement together, in the course of next year, a programme of confidence building measures. These measures are aimed at renewing trust. We authorise LINKS, as the facilitator of the SCPI process, to work with our two delegations to elaborate details of this programme and commence this work as soon as practicably possible.

We express our thanks to the people of Scotland for the friendship and support expressed to us in the difficult task we have undertaken, and we thank LINKS and the government and democratic institutions in Scotland for creating the correct conditions for our work.

Issued in Craigellachie, Scotland, 20 December 2003

* Distributed by LINKS (Caucasus Office)
41 Barnov Street, Tbilisi, Georgia
Tel +995 32 292399, Fax +995 32 987439,
email: links@caucasus.net  –  contact person: Lasha Darsalia

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