Oskanian Praises Russia Armenia Relations

GENEVA (Itar-Tass)–Russian military bases in Armenia are an important element of Armenian national security and a source of stability in the Caucasus–Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian told Itar-Tass Thursday.

"Our relations with Russia are perfect. Very recently–only a week ago–in Yerevan we exchanged instrumen’s of ratification of the Treaty on Friendship–which also has strong security elemen’s. This provides for a very substantial and unique basis of the bilateral relations between Armenia and Russia," the minister said. "The Russian bases in Armenia are part of the security measures–they are a source of stability in our region."

Oskanian opined that the Russian bases were also "a deterring factor" against a possible interference of any country in the affairs of Armenia. He–however–gave an evasive answer whether he was referring to Turkey.

"The situation is very sensitive. I do not want to be misunderstood. The presence of Russian bases in Armenia are a part of our security arrangement. They are an important security element for Armenia. Certainly–their presence makes a contribution to the comprehensive peace and security in the Caucasus," he said.

Oskanian arrived in Switzerland Wednesday on a four-day working visit and delivered a report to members of the Geneva Diplomatic Club on the same day. He praised the current level of the Yerevan-Moscow relations.

"There is no Rusophobia in Armenia and the republic does not see any reasons" to change relations with Russia–the minister remarked.

The Caspian oil disputes are a destabilizing factor in the Caucasus–Oskanian told members of the Diplomatic Club in Geneva on Wednesday.

The struggle of countries for a share of the Caspian oil and the transportation route is not over–he said. A phase when all regional countries will have benefits from the oil has not been achieved.

"As long as the rivalry between various countries for a larger share continues and as long as Azerbaijan uses the oil as an instrument of pressure–it (the oil) will remain a source of instability. We hope that phase will end as soon as possible with the construction of the pipeline and the finalized division of the Caspian Sea. As soon as it is over–we will be able to proceed to another phase," the minister said.

A report of the minister dwelt on other topical problems–including Nagorno-Karabakh.

He stressed the Armenian support to a Karabakh settlement by negotiations. Yerevan has not given a final official answer to the recent initiative of the co-chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group who suggested a "common state" idea as a basis for the Karabakh settlement. "The basic prerequisites go in the right direction" in that proposal–the minister said. It is a positive aspect that the initiative refers to the problem of the Karabakh status and enables the sides to start negotiations without preliminary conditions–he noted.

Asked by Itar-Tass whether Armenia plans to grant asylum to the leader of the Kurdistan Workers Party Abdullah Ocalan–the minister said "they have not requested such an action and we do not expect them to. I really do not see any prospects for that. Ocalan is in Italy and–I suppose–Italy will take the corresponding decisions."

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