Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2008-01-16-Speech-3-440"

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"Madam President, we are following the situation in the Caucasus with great concern and interest. Armenia and Georgia are countries that are very close to Europe, not only geographically, but also in terms of civilisation. I wish to express my support for all the democratic forces in these countries and for initiatives aimed at supporting democracy and economic development for the peoples of the Caucasus. Stabilisation in this region is in the interests both of all countries in the region, and of their partners and neighbours, including European Union countries. It is in our interests to support all the peoples of the region, not least in the spheres of human rights and freedom of the media. I hope that the authorities in Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia will ensure freedom of speech and freedom of the media in the run-up to the elections that the region is looking forward to in 2008. In recent days Georgian citizens have had the opportunity to express their democratic will in Presidential elections. Although President Saakashvili has come out on top in this plebiscite, I am disturbed by the large-scale protests from the opposition, which is trying to undermine the election result, and also by recent events in Georgia that ended in the brutal suppression of peaceful demonstrations, closure of independent media outlets and the introduction of a state of emergency. I also wish to express my doubts concerning the deteriorating situation of human rights and freedom of the media in Azerbaijan. Let us not forget the small and historic peoples of the Caucasus, the Abkhazians and Ossetians, whose right to self-determination should be taken into account in the framework of multilateral dialogue with the Georgian authorities. Mutual understanding and dialogue are also required in the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh, where the independent aspirations of the Armenian section of society should be taken into account and reconciled with the expectations of the Azeri populace and nationality. All sides should realise that their future and wellbeing depend on the potential to come to an understanding and build mutual relations based on peace and mutual trust."@en1

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