YEREVAN (Armenpress)–Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian spoke Monday at an international conference dedicated to the 20th anniversary of the Armenian Massacres in the Azerbaijani city of Sumgayit.
The aim of the conference, which is entitled "Tolerance and Xenophobia in the South Caucasian region, is to analyze the causes of national movemen’s, and ethnic cleansing and violence in the Soviet and post-Soviet period.
Addressing the participants, Oskanian expressed gratitude to the organizers of the conference for the initiative and suggested considering the topic on three levels: Armenia, the region as a whole and the global level.
Sumgayit was the first step towards the militarization of the Karabakh issue, Oskanian noted as he stressed the importance of tolerance and unity in ensuring the stability and development in both Armenia and the region.
The Armenian people should unite to prevent genocidal acts like those, which took place in Sumgayit in February 1998, he said during his speech.
The conference concluded with a declaration against intolerance and hatred. The declaration stated that hate and intolerance are not only obstacles for peace and stability but also a threat to the strengthening of democratization on both national and international levels. Feelings of animosity and xenophobia, the declaration continued, create the potential for the strengthening of inter-ethnic and inter-state conflicts in the South Caucasus.
"We challenge the participants acting on the name of non-governmental organizations of different states to urge their assemblies and governmen’s to take measures prohibiting the destruction of the cultural heritage in the region," the statement says as it references the annihilation of the Armenian medieval cemetery of Jew Julfa and Nakhijevan in Azerbaijan.
In other news, Oskanian said during a press conference Monday that Armenia’s leadership will not waste time and immediately resume negotiations for a settlement of the Karabakh Conflict. Armenia is prepared to resume the talks as soon as possible, Oskanian added.
The Foreign Minister told reporters he hopes progress can be made before the presidential election in Azerbaijan, which is expected in October. Oskanian also discussed Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian’s position on the Nagorno-Karabak conflict resolution.
"In the long run, Prime Minister Sarkisian has the same stance as president Kocharian and I regarding the basic principles of the conflict settlement," Oskanian said. "The principles are in the latest document proposed by peace brokers," he added.
The co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group have indicated they are prepared now to arrange a first meeting of Armenian and Azerbaijani presidents after Sarkisian is inaugurated on April 9, according to Oskanian.
Oskanian’s commen’s came after talks in Yerevan Monday with Chairman of the Council of Europe Jan Kubis.
Kubis, who is also the Foreign Minister of Slovakia, was in Armenia on a one-day visit to discuss the results of the February 19 elections.