Prime Minister Stresses Relations with Neighbors

YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–Armenian Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan, in an interview with the Azeri online news agency, Tuesday emphasized the importance of establishing good neighborly relations with all of Armenia’s neighbors as a means to ensure stability in the region.

"We must focus on the values, which bring us closer and not those, which separate us. Armenia, like Azerbaijan, is loyal to common European values and sees its future in the integration with the European Union," said Sargsyan.

"In line with the program of the New Neighborhood Program of the European Commission, the European Union has recommended to build closer relations with the South Caucasus countries–Georgian , Armenia and Azerbaijan," he added. "It is necessary to see a common future in 20 or 30 years and then we will be able to find mutually profitable decisions. I think the process will be accelerated following the elections in Azerbaijan. We believe in Azerbaijan’s constructiveness."

Sargsyan also characterized Armenian economic interests as a three-pronged element that includes Karabakh and the Diaspora.

Regarding a statement that opening of the Armenian-Turkish border is a vitally important issue for Yerevan, Sargsyan said: "As is known, the border with Turkey has been closed for about 15 years ago and over these years the Armenian economy has ensured high growth, which has been two-digit through the past 10 years. Therefore, it is necessary to clarify what the concept ‘vitally important issue for Armenia’ means."

"The really ‘vitally important issue’ is the establishment of good neighbor relations with all the countries of the region, primarily, Azerbaijan. We approach this issue pragmatically and we consider that the trends in international development demonstrate that competition between countries is growing into regional competition and from a long-term perspective cooperation in the region will become the first issue on the agenda of all the countries in the region," Sargsyan said.

In this context, he added, it would be interesting to discuss "The Caucasus Stability and Security Platform" of the Turkish President.

According to Turkish President Abdullah Gul, the Armenia’s position regarding rapprochement with Turkey has always been exact and clear, Sargsyan said, adding that Armenia is always "ready to establish diplomatic relations with Turkey without any provisions."

The Azeri news agency was interested whether the Armenian economy sustained great losses after the conflict in South Ossetia, Sargsyan added.

In this regard, the Prime Minister noted that such conflicts cannot but affect the neighbor countries, especially Armenia, which has limited transport ways. About 70 percent of trade turnover of Armenia is conducted via Georgia.

"The damage caused to the Armenian economy by the well-known events comes out to $670 million," he said, explaining that the figure accounts for un-collected taxes, postponed investmen’s, unimplemented projects and other items.

"The conflict became a serious test of the flexibility of the Armenian economy," he said. "Today we can say that the flexibility of our economy has risen sharply through the past years and like Azerbaijan, Armenia aspires to have the Russian-Georgian relations improved as soon as possible."


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