Sarkisian Says Right to Self-Determination a ‘Fundamental Principle’ for Armenia

President Serzh Sarkisian speaks during a ceremony marking Armenia's independence day anniversary


YEREVAN—Armenia is interested in maintaining good relations with both the East and the West, Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian said in an interview with the Italian Corriere della Sera. He added that “it’s dangerous for small countries to take advantage of the contradictions between the major decision-making centers.”

“We have strong economic and strategic relations with Russia, we are part of the collective security system. At the same time we have very good relations with the United States, the European Union and NATO. Thus, in the face of tensions in their relationships, we choose not to take sides. We build our foreign policy around concrete issues,” the Armenian President said.

As an example of a concrete issue, President Sarkisian pointed to the UN General Assembly Resolution on Crimea. “Armenia voted against the measure, but not because Russia did the same. As you know, there is the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh, an Armenian-populated region that declared independence from Azerbaijan. For us, the right to self-determination of peoples is a fundamental principle. We reject the approach that before exercising this universally recognized principle, it’s necessary to ask permission,” he stated.

According to the Armenian President, there are values that are inalienable. “I remember that at the time of the collapse of the USSR Europe unconditionally supported the right to self-determination. Armenia, Azerbaijan and Ukraine became independent during that process. Does this mean we should support the exercise of this right in the case of large territorial units, such as the USSR, but not in the case of smaller units? We should remember the independence of Kosovo: there is no difference with Nagorno-Karabakh,” he said.

Asked whether there is no difference even between Kosovo and Crimea, President Sarkisian said: “I do not have the right to judge the case of Crimea. But it is evident that there has been an exercise of the right to self-determination. In any case, we do not see a contradiction between the right to self-determination and the principle of territorial integrity. They are both founding principles of the Charter of the United Nations. ”

Speaking about the prospects of peaceful settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, the Armenian President said: “The long negotiations led to important results, with a solution framework that is based on three principles: non-use of force or the threat of force, territorial integrity and self-determination. But the solution seems to us to be far away in light of recent developments.”

President Sarkisian said Turkey’s role in the process is not positive. “It’s not positive. Ankara defends, supports and echoes the Azerbaijani positions,” he said.

“In addition there is the issue of the Armenian Genocide, which marks the centenary in 2015 and which Turkey continues to deny. I am optimistic that one day a Turkish government will come to terms with history, recognizing the Armenian genocide.” “I have invited Turkish President Erdogan to the commemoration of the centenary, but I doubt he will come,” he reminded.

Serzh Sarkisian said the developments in the Middle East concern the international community, particularly Armenia. “There are large and vibrant Armenian communities in Iraq and Syria, who have lived there for years in harmony with Muslims. Now we are witnessing the gradual annihilation of the Christian cultural heritage in those regions. We are a small country, but efforts of large coalitions aimed at stabilizing this region have always been well received by the Armenian government. In addition, the presence of Armenian communities in those areas makes us particularly sensitive. After Iraq and Afghanistan, in late October Armenia will deploy a contingent in Lebanon under the Italian command within the framework of the UN peacekeeping mission,” President Sarkisian said.

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7 Comments

  1. Areg said:

    Our Lands Mr. Sarkissian. Our lands Mr. Sarkissian. Our Western Armenian Lands Mr. President.
    Enouqh of being a smiling and soft president. Armenians want a strong leader not a puppit!
    Wake up Armenians. No more trust in the Western World. The Western World is on the side of Genocidal Turks. They have always been and they always will remain the same. The Western World and those who pull the strings of the Western World behind the curtain are feeding up the Pan Turkism Plan.
    Stop the Genocidal Turkey. Stop the Genocidal Azerbaijan. Stop the Western World’s Evil Plan.

    • krikor said:

      What Armenians need is commitment and contribution towards our cause. Not just talk. Do you pay money to Armenia? Do you volunteer there? Do you spend your vacations there to support the economy?
      Neither the western nor the eastern world will support us. Only we can help our selves. And, God only helps those who do cannot help themselves (if you know what i am saying).
      Armenians need to stop blabbing and must get to action

  2. Avetis said:

    Armenia’s future is with the Russian nation. No Russia in the south Caucasus = no Armenia in the south Caucasus. Armenia will remain vulnerable as long as it continues its flirtations with Western powers and allows westerners (including Diasporans) to engage in political activism.

    • Armenian said:

      Most of the positive changes in Armenia have been brought about by the Diaspora. This includes new museums, hotels, businesses and the like. To isolate Armenia from its diaspora, something that it could potentially utilize to its advantage through foreign lobbying and promotion in an exchange for 100% Russian dominance is not only absurd, but incredibly stupid from an Armenian viewpoint. I wouldn’t expect you to understand that, though, given the fact that you’re pretty much Russian in spirit, and fight exclusively for that country’s interests in the expense of your own.

  3. GeorgeMardig said:

    President Sarkissian is a clever man, under the circumstances he’s acting the best, he well knows that Armenia is a poor and small country, he dosn’t have the deep pockets of Azerbaijan and Turkey

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