Armenia to Further Strengthen Ties with Russia, says Nalbandian

YEREVAN (Armradio)–Armenia will continue to strengthen its special strategic partnership with the Russian Federation, building upon the traditional friendly ties between the two nations, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian told Mediamax in an interview on Friday.
Armenia will also continue its policy of complimentarity and pursue the development and enhancement of its partnership with the United States, he noted, adding, that the country’s ties with Europe will similarly remain strong.
He said, Armenia will continue to develop stronger ties with Europe based on its shared values and commitmen’s within the framework of cooperation with European organizations.
Nalbandian, who was appointed as Armenia’s new foreign minister on Monday, told Mediamax that Armenia considers its relations with friendly neighbors to be a priority. Armenia is ready to exert every effort to improve relations with neighboring countries that still have unresolved issues with Armenia, he emphasized.
But the resolution of the Karabakh Conflict remains a top priority, he emphasized.
"I would like to reiterate Armenia’s commitment to continue the existing process in order to reach a solution," Nalbandian said. "However, our readiness alone is not enough. Azerbaijan’s readiness is also needed for reaching a settlement."
"I would like to believe that, together with my Azerbaijani counterpart, we will demonstrate due responsibility, put aside the practice of communicating through the media and declarations, and of giving public lessons and advise," the Foreign Minister added.
It is impossible to call for compromise and speak of constructive approaches when one side constantly makes militant statemen’s and openly prepares for a war, he stressed, adding that there is no reason for such an approach.
"Why would this be done? I cannot think of any other state which brags about a several-fold increase in its military budget," the Minister said.
Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev last week announced that his country’s military budget would be increased by 53% to $2 billion. Azerbaijan has been funneling the wealth generated by the BTC Pipeline into its military coffers since the completion of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) oil pipeline in 2006, pledging to use its new military might to take Karabakh back by force.
The career diplomat explained that the key issue of the negotiations is the status of Nagorno Karabakh. It should be resolved within the format of the Minsk Group peace process, on the basis of a plebiscite, which will give the people of Karabakh an opportunity for a free expression of their will.
But Azerbaijan has repeatedly refused to accept a compromise solution outlined by the basic principles of conflict resolution outlined by the OSCE and continues to demand the inclusion of Nagorno-Karabakh within Azerbaijan.
The document on the basic principles of negotiation, adopted by the OSCE Minks Group Co-Chairs in November, calls for a gradual resolution of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict, beginning with the return of at least six of the seven Armenian-controlled districts around Karabakh. The final stage is a referendum of self-determination on Karabakh’s future status. Since 1997, the peace talks over the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict have been conducted by the American, French and Russian co-chairmen of the Minsk Group.
"This is the essence of the current stage of negotiations," he explained. "I believe that there is a window of opportunity today, and a solution can be reached with political will."
Discussing Armenia’s relations with Turkey, Nalbandian expressed official Yerevan’s continued readiness to normalize relations without preconditions. But Turkey continues to maintain that the normalization of relations and the lifting of a decade long embargo are tied to Armenia’s abandonment of Genocide Recognition and Karabakh independence.
"The Genocide is a dark page in our common history, and together, we have to turn this page, and together must we build a secure future," Nalbandian said as he reiterated Armenia’s commitment to developing relations with Turkey without preconditions.
The establishment of a lasting peace and continued stability in cooperation with the other states in the region continues to remain a priority for the Republic of Armenia, according to Nalbandian. The strategic importance of the South Caucasus is not only in its geographic location and natural riches, but in its position on an important North-South and East-West axis, he added.
But the geopolitical advantages of the region can only be fully realized if conflicts are resolved and good-neighborly relations are established, he stressed, adding that this will benefit everyone!
"The Republic of Armenia will spare no effort to bring that day closer," he remarked.

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