Paris Forum Sets Stage for Oskanian to Attack Azeri Accusations of Drug Trafficking

YEREVAN (Armenpress–PanARMENIAN.Net)–Armenia’s foreign minister Vartan Oskanian spoke on Friday at the "Transit Routes of Drugs from Central Asia to Europe" forum in Paris that aims to discuss the current struggle against drug production in Central Asia–specifically Afghanistan–and its further transit to Europe. The French foreign ministry and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime organized the summit; representatives of over 50 countries participated.

Speaking about Armenia’s location at the crossroads of civilization which over the centuries has taken Asian and European civilizations to newfound cultures and lands–Oskanian said that the process has resulted in invaluable trade and integration of values and traditions.

"Today–those same crossroads serve to promote not just legitimate–essential–vital–reciprocal economic trade and development–but also the transport of illicit drugs throughout the Eurasian continent. . . Central Asia and the Caucasus is inarguably the region through which drugs are transported from east to west. Although Armenia lies on this route–in our case–there is an irony that cannot be ignored," emphasized Oskanian.

He pointed to the nearly decade-long blockade of Armenia by its neighbors to the east and the west–which has not only hindered economic development and the advancement of regional cooperation–but has also ironically served to block the trafficking of illicit drugs.

"From neither Turkey nor Azerbaijan–can the distribution chain pass through Armenia. Nor can the terrorism and other threats often associated with the narcotics trade affect us as easily."

He adamantly rejected accusations by Azerbaijan of drug trafficking in Armenia and Karabagh.

"We–Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh–would welcome international fact-finding missions to the region. In fact–we’ve been advocating such visits to Nagorno Karabagh to dispel such politically motivated accusations.

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