YEREVAN.- An interview of the Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharyan to Armenian News-NEWS.am.
Mr. Kocharyan, Armenian Parliament has already approved the government program for the next five years. Tell about the foreign policy component outlined in the program.
In coming years, Armenia’s foreign policy will continue to develop in the direction which pursues the goal to ensure protection of the state interests, the country’s security, creation of favorable external conditions for economic development, enhancing the international image of Armenia, ensuring regional stability and security.
Obviously, one of Armenia’s most important foreign policy objectives is settlement of the Karabakh conflict.
In this regard, greater efforts will be taken to involve Nagorno-Karabakh in the negotiation process. Everyone realizes that it is difficult to speak about effectiveness of talks without Karabakh’s participation. Naturally, we assume that the basis for resolving the conflict should be Karabakh people’s right to self-determination.
In addition, the efforts of both Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) must be aimed at ruling out the attempts of military solution to the conflict. Armenia will continue to support all steps taken by NKR, aimed at its economic development, strengthening of defense capability, and in general the two Armenian states together will continue to move towards the development of a democratic society.
In this regard, however, there is an interesting difference: while Armenia is under current monitoring, we are constantly pointed at the problems and mistakes, NKR is building a democratic society without any outside support. Moreover, after regular elections in Artsakh [Nagorno-Karabakh], which are characterized as those held in accordance with international standards, sometimes voices condemning the vote are heard in favor of Azerbaijan.
Armenia will continue to deepen alliances with its strategic partner - Russia, to develop friendly relations with the United States, to enhance cooperation with EU countries and the EU itself. Further deepening of relations with neighboring Georgia and Iran are also of great importance. We are historically bound by good neighborly relations with these nations.
Armenia plans to expand cooperation with China, India, Japan, the Arab world. More attention will be paid to the development of relations with other countries in the Asian region, the countries of Africa and Latin America.
Government’s program also pays attention to ensuring the military and political security. In this regard, relationship with Russia, and Armenia’s membership in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO) is important. We will continue to deepen cooperation in this relatively young organization which faces a process of strengthening and improving efficiency. Armenia is actively involved in this process, too.
One of the important components of the government program in general, and the Foreign Ministry in particular, are the efforts aimed at prevention and condemnation of crimes against humanity, such as genocide. This work is especially important in the light of the 100th anniversary of the tragedy the Armenian people survived. The undertaken moves are important not only for our country and the Diaspora, but for entire world. The unpunished crimes against humanity and denial of the fact of crime create fertile ground for recurrence of similar events.
We will also continue efforts to actively participate in various international agencies, as a full member or observer, depending on the organization and on our goals.
Are there plans to open new embassies?
The process of increasing the number of Armenian diplomatic missions abroad continues. Armenia’s embassies opened in several countries within the past two years. We will make efforts to open new embassies.
Will the Armenian side make efforts to promote its position on the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement?
The point is that Azerbaijan is the side to be engaged in publicity stunt using talks as a cover. Our goal is to expose distorted facts promoted by Azerbaijan and present the true course of events. We are not distorting the international law, it is on our side.
The truth is that the conflict broke out and turned into war due to Azerbaijan’s politics of power. It is not mere coincidence that position voiced by Armenia is coherent with those expressed by the co-chairing states and representatives of different international agencies.
Azerbaijan’s actions and statements run counter to the steps offered by international institutions and mediators in order to create an atmosphere of confidence between peoples, which is a prerequisite for achieving a comprehensive peace agreement.
Thus, the mediators are calling for withdrawal of snipers from the contact line; Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia support the proposal, while Azerbaijan is against it. The mediators offer creation of mechanisms to investigate the incidents on frontline - again, Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia are for, while Azerbaijan is against the initiative. In response to calls by the international community to maintain the ceasefire agreement Azerbaijan holds acts of sabotage. We do have strong positions but this does not mean that we should not work - on the contrary, we must work hard to further present the rightness of our position.
Has foreign office launched preparation for events marking 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide?
Although the world will mark tragic anniversary in 2015, preparation for the events has already started. It must be taken into account that Turkey is extremely concerned about the upcoming date, and with a persistency mobilizes its forces, including the communities abroad, in an attempt to hinder the process of international recognition of the Armenian Genocide. However, it will not stop the process of international recognition. By denying the Genocide, leadership of modern Turkey resembles the Ottoman Turkey government which perpetrated the Genocide.
Can you present the details on the components of Armenia’s external security?
The two Armenian states first of all reckon their own strength, and military parades in Yerevan and Stepanakert have demonstrated that in case of any events, the response may be asymmetric. In modern world security of even larger states, definitely, supposes cooperation, teamwork and membership in a military-political bloc. Armenia is a CSTO member and at the same time is working effectively with NATO.
In addition to the CSTO obligations, in case of aggression against Armenia, we have a bilateral treaty with Russia, and during the state visit of Russian [former] President Dmitry Medvedev to Armenia the document was amended. According to the document, together with the Armenian side, Russia is obliged to provide security along the entire perimeter of the Armenian border, not the length of the former Soviet border, as previously. Besides, it is important that the negotiation process on Nagorno-Karabakh involve three states, permanent members of UN Security Council.
The negotiation process, in fact, has two components – to contribute to the comprehensive peace agreement and to avoid slipping into a new armed confrontation. Not coincidentally, the recent sabotage undertaken by Azerbaijan at the line of contact with Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, were rebuffed both by the leaders of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairing states and directly the mediators. OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Foreign Minister of Ireland and the future Chairperson-in-Office - the Foreign Minister of Ukraine - have repeatedly stated that one of the organization’s priorities is prevention of military solutions of the conflict.