Address By Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian At the Fourth European Armenian Convention


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Address By Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian At the Fourth European Armenian Convention

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 Your Holiness Aram I, Catholicos of the Great House of Cilicia,

Honorable Members of Parliaments,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends,

I would like to welcome the participants of the fourth European Armenian Convention. 
Speaking in the premises of the European Parliament, first of all I would like to recall that one of the first resolutions on the recognition of the Armenian Genocide was adopted here back in 1987. On the eve of the centenary of the Armenian Genocide in 2015 the European parliament once again reaffirmed its principled stance, paid tribute to the memory of innocent Armenian victims and “joined the commemoration in a spirit of European solidarity and justice”. In the same spirit on the year of the centennial and since then a number of countries, including the parliaments of Austria, Belgium, Germany, Czech Republic, Luxembourg joined many others in Europe and beyond adopting resolutions on the recognition of the Armenian Genocide. These efforts are of utmost importance not only for the remembrance but also as a significant contribution to the international prevention efforts.

As a nation that passed through the horrors of the genocide we feel a moral obligation but also an authority to speak out and act against recurrence of genocides, crimes against humanity. The most recent initiatives of the Republic of Armenia in this regard made in 2015 were the adoption of the resolution on Genocide prevention at the UN Human Rights Council and the adoption of the resolution on International Day of commemoration of the victims of genocide at the UN General Assembly. These efforts will continue. 

Next year we will mark the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Genocide Convention. 70 years passed, unfortunately, the world is not immune from this evil. The actions of terrorists against ethnic and religious groups in the Middle East vividly indicate the relevance of the Convention. Armenia was among the first to condemn these acts of terrorist groups. Unfortunately the Syrian carnage has not bypassed our fellow Armenians, who have suffered along with the Syrian people, other ethnic and religious groups. The Syrian crisis has once again demonstrated that due to the large geographic presence, having hundreds of communities all around the world, Armenians are vulnerable to many global threats. Armenia takes this into full account in its engagements on the international stage – among others on prevention efforts, protection of ethnic and religious minorities, addressing issues of refugees and migrants, participating in peacekeeping missions, joining efforts in the fight against terrorism. 

Ladies and gentlemen,

Since we are gathered here for the European Armenian Convention, in the close vicinity to the head offices of a number of European structures, let me brief you also on the Armenia-EU relations which are among the main pillars of the Armenian foreign policy. 

Armenia enjoys close ties with the European Union and intends to expand the comprehensive cooperation in all areas of mutual interest.

The European Union provides valuable assistance for the ongoing reforms in our country, supports the efforts made by Armenia towards the continuous promotion of human rights and the rule of law, further strengthening of democratic institutions, improving judiciary and effective governance. I would like also to emphasize our cooperation in the context of parliamentary elections held in Armenia last April. 

The support of the European Union also extends to different sectors of Armenia’s economy, including energy, transport, agriculture. Some of them have a regional importance, like the modernization of the Armenia-Georgia border checkpoints and the construction of the high voltage transmission lines. We actively cooperate in the fields of education, innovation, science and culture, including through such programs as Horizon 2020, Erasmus Plus and others. This year we have concluded the negotiations with the European Union on "Creative Europe" programme and the Common Aviation Area Agreement.

In this regard I would like to specifically highlight that the Armenia-EU Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement has been finalized and initialed. The signing of the Agreement can become one of the main achievements of the EU Eastern Partnership Summit to be held in Brussels in November.

Among the issues on the Armenia-EU cooperation agenda, I would like to emphasize the importance of launching the visa liberalization dialogue that was one of the commitments enshrined in the Riga declaration of the EU Eastern Partnership and is an important component for the enhanced mobility and deepening of people to people contacts.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Needless to say, that the peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is one of the highest priorities on Armenia’s foreign policy agenda. As you know three days ago a Summit of the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan was held in Geneva. When it comes to the outcome of the meeting itself everything was clearly indicated in the joint statement of the Foreign Ministers and the Co-Chairs. The meeting took place in a constructive atmosphere. The Presidents agreed to take measures to intensify the negotiation process and to take additional steps to reduce tensions on the Line of Contact. The Co-Chairs expressed their satisfaction with these direct talks, which took place after a long interval. They remain ready to work with the sides on mediating a peacefully negotiated settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. As a next step, the Co-Chairs will organize working sessions with the Foreign Ministers in the near future. So much for the Summit. 

As you know the Armenian side has long been advocating for the peaceful negotiated settlement and for the reduction of tensions and all these have been reflected in the joint statement. 

The meeting of the Presidents after about sixteen months interval was made possible due to the able mediation of the OSCE MInsk Group Co-Chairs and this in itself can be considered as a positive thing. 

For the first time in about four years it was possible to adopt, although quite brief, a joint statement with the participation of the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan together with the Co-Chairs. As you know on numerous previous occasions Armenia expressed its readiness to join the statements of the Co-Chairs, however Azerbaijan always refused to have a common statement. 

Against this backdrop, it is regrettable, that after the Summit, Baku, time and time again, has been engaged in cheap and primitive manipulations, claiming that allegedly an agreement was reached in Geneva to refrain from making any comments not on the outcome of the Summit but the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution as a whole. It is clear, why Azerbaijan does this: obviously it tries to avoid the responsibility for its own destructive policy. 

First, the damage caused to the peace process by the April 2016 Azerbaijani aggression against Nagorno-Karabakh has not been overcome yet. 

Second, Baku has refused to implement Vienna and St. Petersburg agreements, which were aimed at creating conducive conditions for moving the peace process forward. It is well known, that Azerbaijan has backtracked from the agreements on numerous occasions previously questioning its credibility as a negotiating party. 

Third, Azerbaijan refuses to reiterate the principles of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution that have been presented by the Co-Chair countries as a basis for the settlement, namely: the non use of force or threat of use of force, self-determination and territorial integrity. 

Fourth, despite numerous calls of the Co-Chairs to respect the 1994-95 trilateral ceasefire agreements, that do not have time limitations, Baku continues grossly violate the ceasefire. 

Yes, Armenia is convinced that there is a need to conduct intensive negotiations. We strongly believe that if Baku abides to the calls of the Co-Chairs to strictly respect the ceasefire, implements previously reached agreements, reiterates its adherence to the principles of the conflict resolution proposed by the Co-Chairs and constructively engages in the negotiations that will open the possibilities for moving the peace process forward. 

Armenia, together with the Co-Chairs of the Minsk Group will continue the efforts aimed at the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict exclusively by the peaceful means.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

As I started my speech with the references to the resolutions of the European Parliament, I would like to conclude it also by recalling one of them adopted in 1999, which stipulates that Nagorno-Karabakh declared its independence following similar declarations made by the former Soviet Republics. Indeed, Nagorno-Karabakh has never been part of independent Azerbaijan and, as President Sargsyan stressed on numerous occasions, can never be.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The coordinated and concerted efforts are essential for the success of many endeavors. I wish you productive deliberations on charting your common approaches and defining your joint actions. 

Thank you. 

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