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President Sargsyan emphasises the importance of confidence and tolerance.

The Council of Europe is an essential means of rooting democracy in Armenia

Armenia has been drawing closer to Europe in a unique and natural way for two decades, during which the Council of Europe has been a key partner in the process of establishing and strengthening democracy, the President of Armenia, Serzh Sargsyan, has told the Parliamentary Assembly.

The political crisis in March 2008 had resulted in divergent points of view, but Armenia had benefited from this constructive dialogue to improve its legislation and redress the weaknesses in its legal system. The country's authorities had acquired a sense of tolerance and a culture of dialogue, and had also learnt to listen and to respect the opinions of others and understood that government and opposition were not enemies.

The President expressed pride in the maturity of Armenian society and was determined to continue with even the most painful reforms, to assist the country's development.

Turning to the future, Mr Sargsyan stressed the importance of establishing a climate of confidence and tolerance, so that a settlement could be reached in the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. He called on the Council of Europe to establish links with Nagorno-Karabakh, which irrespective of its status remained an integral part of Europe.

"I am convinced", he concluded, "that a shared future is emerging, based on peace and stability, and without divisions or divides".