Strasbourg, 30.01.2003 - The Secretary General of the Council of Europe today voiced regret at the recent declaration on "ethnic incompatibility between Armenians and Azerbaijanis", made by President Kocharian of Armenia. "Recalling dark pages of European history will never be a good electoral strategy", underlined Walter Schwimmer in reference to the upcoming presidential elections in Armenia, scheduled for 19 February. Later in 2003, there will also be presidential elections in Azerbaijan.
"I call on all candidates, both in Armenia and Azerbaijan, to refrain from bellicose or hate rhetoric", Walter Schwimmer said. "Upon accession to the Council of Europe, both countries committed themselves to a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict - and we take this commitment very seriously", declared the Secretary General of the 44-member-state Organisation.
"Europe, to which Armenia and Azerbaijan belong, begins with the acceptance of European diversity - be it ethnic, cultural, religious or linguistic. Our dream is to preserve and enjoy diversity", Mr Schwimmer concluded.
Council of Europe Spokesperson and Press
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