YEREVAN—On Monday, one day before a session of the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly is to be held in Yerevan, Armenia, the Republic of Armenia’s Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian spoke at a meeting of the Euronest Committee on Political Affairs, in which he reaffirmed Armenia’s willingness to work with the European Union on matters of continuing cooperation.
“Armenia highly appreciates comprehensive and multilayer cooperation with the European Union in such areas as democracy, the rule of law, protection of fundamental freedoms, joint programs on sustainable development and good governance,” Nalbandian said.
Despite Armenia’s abandoning of an Association Agreement with the European Union in favor of joining a trade bloc with Russia, Armenia and the EU have agreed to continue seeking avenues for economic and political relations.
“At the moment we have approached the final stage of our discussions with our partners on the future legal basis of our cooperation, based on the progress achieved in the previous period,” Nalbandian said. “Armenia stands ready to continue comprehensive cooperation with the European Union in all formats, in all possible areas and directions taking into account our obligations in other integration processes.”
Nalbandian also touched on the Ukraine crisis, attempting to paint Armenia as a neutral party in the stand-off between Russia and Europe.
“Today the attention of the international community is focused on searching the ways of settlement of the Ukrainian crisis,” Nalbandian said. “Armenia and Ukraine are tied not only by the centuries-old friendship between our two peoples, but also by the existence of a multi-thousand Armenian community in Ukraine. Armenia has welcomed the results of the Minsk summit, the adoption of the joint resolution by the Presidents of Ukraine, Russia, France and the Chancellor of Germany, as well as the document signed by the Contact group on the implementation of the Minsk agreements. We hope that the implementation of the achieved agreements will pave a way for the comprehensive solution of the crisis.”
The Foreign Minister continued by speaking about the Artsakh conflict and the recent escalation of violence along Artsakh’s borders.
“With regard to the current stage of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, it should be noted that Baku continues to oppose the Minsk Group Co-Chairs and does its utmost to undermine the peace talks. It rejects the proposals of the Minsk Group Co-Chairs not only on the basic principles of the conflict resolution, but also on the implementation of confidence-building measures. These proposals are the product of the tireless efforts of the last six years – about twenty summits, several dozen ministerial-level meetings, innumerable visits by the three Co-Chairs to the region.
“Baku significantly escalated the situation by drastically increasing the ceasefire violations and targeting civilian objects, including with the use of heavy weaponry. It has claimed unprecedented high number of casualties among all parties to the conflict.
“In this situation of ongoing escalation as a result of Azerbaijan’s destructive stance the Co-Chairs expressed serious concerns to Baku on incursions across the Line of Contact and the Armenia-Azerbaijan border. They directly urged ‘Azerbaijan to observe its commitments to a peaceful resolution of the conflict.’ The Co-Chairs were obliged to remind about their mandates and express concerns about critical voices coming from Baku on the ongoing negotiation process, the role of the Minsk Group Co-Chairs, and the duties of OSCE monitors. It is important that the Co-Chairs have clearly identified the side responsible for the violence. However, nothing restrains Azerbaijan.
“Azerbaijani provocations are also matched with consistent warmongering rhetoric and anti-Armenian hate speech. Azerbaijan has increased its military budget 30 times within the last 10 years and constantly threatens to solve the conflict by military force. Those civil activists, intellectuals and journalists who have been advocating for peace and reconciliation, are prosecuted as „Armenian spies” and end up behind bars.
“Armenia, unlike Azerbaijan, has always been for the continuation of negotiations based on the proposals of the Co-Chair countries, aimed at exclusively peaceful resolution of the conflict,” Nalbandia said.
Foreign Minister Nalbandian reminded the Committee that this year marks the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the Armenian Genocide. “The recognition and condemnation of past genocides is one of the main factors in their prevention in the future,” he said.
As early as in 1987 the European Parliament has recognized the Armenian Genocide, and has reaffirmed its position in 2000, 2002 and 2005. The European Parliament in various resolutions has also called on Turkey to open the border with neighboring Armenia and establish regular diplomatic relations.
“On March 3, the European People’s Party passed a resolution which calls on Turkey to recognize and condemn the Armenian Genocide committed by the Ottoman Empire,” Nalbandian said. “It appeals to the international organizations, the European Union and the Council of Europe member states to restore historical justice and commemorate the victims.”
“I would like to take this opportunity to express once again gratitude to all those who contributed to the adoption of this resolution. Only through our joint endeavors it is possible to have a meaningful contribution to the efforts on prevention of genocides and crimes against humanity,” the Foreign Minister said.
“Parliaments have an important mission in establishing connections between societies and promoting inter-state relations. We hope that the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly’s Yerevan Session will make a meaningful contribution to this end,” Nalbandian concluded.