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The East: Presidents Make Closing Remarks At Summit

Strasbourg, France; 13 October 1997 (RFE/RL) -- The Council of Europe completed its two-day summit in Strasbourg, France, Saturday after hearing from several leaders from central and eastern Europe and from states of the former Soviet Union.

Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze said his country was re-uniting with Europe in order to find what he called "its own salvation" within the continent. He said he hopes Georgia will become a full Council member by 1999.

Armenian President Levon Ter-Petrosian and Azerbaijan's President Heydar Aliyev each told the summit that they hope a resolution will soon be reached in the dispute over Azerbaijan's mostly ethnic Armenian enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh.

The Muslim representative of Bosnia's collective presidency, Alija Izetbegovic, told the summit that NATO-led troops must remain to help keep the peace beyond their current mandate which expires next June.

Beyond speeches, summit leaders also endorsed a political declaration that reaffirmed support for pluralist democracy, respect for human rights, and the rule of law. The declaration emphasizes the Council's determination to help protect national minorities.