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Caucasus: Armenian, Azerbaijani, Georgian Leaders Ratify EU Pacts

Luxembourg, 23 June 1999 (RFE/RL) -- Leaders from Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan were in Luxembourg yesterday to mark the ratification of partnership and cooperation agreements with the European Union.

The presidents of Georgia and Armenia, Eduard Shevardnadze and Robert Kocharian, as well as Azerbaijani Prime Minister Artur Rasizade, met outgoing European Commission President Jacques Santer and German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer. Germany currently holds the EU's rotating presidency. The five marked the official entry into force of the agreements, which will take effect on July 1. The agreements were originally signed in 1996.

Our correspondent in Luxembourg reports that the agreements are designed to encourage peaceful development in the south Caucasus region, and to expand relations between the three states and the EU.

The EU issued a statement pledging to continue assistance to the region to reinforce economic and political stability there. The EU noted that progress has been made in all three states. But it said there are serious problems which need to be addressed concerning the rule of law and the process of market liberalization.