Armenia’s Azeris ‘Ethnically Incompatible’

MOSCOW (RFE/RL-Armenpress)–On the first day of his trip to Russia–Armenia’s closest political and military ally–President Robert Kocharian cited an "ethnic incompatibility" between Armenia’s and Azerbaijanis as he made a case for international recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh’s independence at the start of an official visit to Russia on Thursday. Kocharian is due to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov on Friday.

"The Armenian pogroms in Sumgait and Baku–and the attempts at mass military deportation of Armenia’s from Karabakh in 1991-92 indicate the impossibility for Armenia’s to live in Azerbaijan in general. We are talking about some sort of ethnic incompatibility," Kocharian declared in a speech at a diplomatic academy in Moscow.

"It is not pleasant to talk about this–but it’s a fact," he went on. "Something like that has already been seen in the Balkans. This motivated out statement that Armenia is responsible for the security of the people of Nagorno Karabakh. A nation that has survived genocide cannot allow it to repeat."

Kocharian argued that the disputed region has never been a part of independent Azerbaijan. "In the past–when Karabakh had voluntarily entered the Russian Empire–it was not in order to find itself later within the Republic of Azerbaijan," he said.

Although no major agreemen’s are slated for signing–the visit is considered important for Kocharian’s bid to win a second term in office in next month’s presidential elections. Russia is home to a large number of Armenia’s many of whom remain Armenian citizens and can vote in the February polls. Their largest community organization is led by wealthy businessman Ara Abrahamian who reportedly has close ties with the Kremlin.

Addressing the students and staff of the Diplomatic Academy of Russia’s foreign ministry–Kocharian stated that Armenia attaches great importance to Russia’s role in establishing stability in the Caucasus. He stressed that the creation of the Caucasus Four–to include Russia and three other countries of the Caucasus–is of great importance. "The atmosphere of trust to be created between Armenia and Russia will support that group."

He also emphasized the importance of the Russian Armenian community’s role in the process of developing bilateral relations between the two countries. "The work carried out with the Diaspora is of top priority for Armenia’s president and government. Armenia with the Diaspora–and Armenia without it–are very different things."

He joked that in Armenia–the GDP is computed in two ways: Armenian GDP and GDP of the Republic of Armenia. He mentioned that various Armenian communities throughout the world help to establish trade ties and form political leverage.

Referring to Armenian-Russian bilateral cooperation–he stressed that there are no contradictions between Moscow and Yerevan on political and military cooperation. "The legal basis of our relations is completely formed and at present we only smooth the edges of bilateral ties."

The Armenian leader–during his speech–also said the trade between the two countries increased slightly to $223 million in the first 11 months of last year. Kocharian complained that its further growth is seriously hampered by the lack of railway connection.

"We have discussed this problem often–but have not been able to find a solution," he said. "This narrows significantly the areas where cooperation would be economically feasible

At the end of the meeting he was awarded the Academy’s Honorable Doctorate Diploma. Expressing his gratitude–Kocharian recognized that the Diplomatic Academy has trained many generations and said that–in fact–lead specialists from the Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs–have passed through the academy.

Economic issues–including further supplies of Russian energy resources–are also expected to be high on the agenda of the talks with officials.

Kocharian also visited an exhibit of Armenian goods in Moscow and was scheduled to meet with the head of the Russian natural gas exporter ITERA later on Thursday.

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