PARIS-Within the framework of the Pro-Armenia Conference–the Foreign Minister of Armenia Vartan Oskanian held a press conference on January 31 in Paris. Journalists from Le Monde and La Croix newspapers were present–as well as Liberty and A-FM Radio stations–Haratch–Ashkharh–France-Armenie and Nouvelle D’Armenie newspapers as well as Azeri Azertak and Turkish Turkiye newspapers–the Public TV channel of Armenia–Beirut-based Zartonk–Iran-based Alik papers and others.
In his opening remarks the foreign minister spoke about Armenian Foreign Policy–emphasizing its role in the international and its consistency–and noted successes of the past five years.
In answering questions of media representatives–Oskanian conveyed a general picture of Armenian foreign relations and current situation:
Armenia does not oppose the European Union’s (EU) decision to set a specific date to commence negotiations on Turkey’s admission to the Union; Turkey–however–must respect EU provisions and negotiate with Armenia–without preconditions.
Armenia’s position on Iraq is that it must rid of weapons and disarm its weapons of mass destruction.
Joining NATO is not an issue on Armenia’s agenda–although within the framework of Cooperation for Peace–upcoming NATO military training programs will take place in Armenia and will include Turkish troops.
One participant mentioned that among the three Caucasus countries–Armenia possesses the most successful foreign policy. Oskanian accepted the compliment and humorously replied that only a wise person can come to such a conclusion.
Regarding Turkey’s admission to EU and how that affects Armenia–and its desire for admission–Oskanian replied that Armenia’s membership is not tied to Turkey’s. He said–however–that "Saturday may come before Sunday."
In order to finalize its membership to the Council of Europe (CE)–Armenia would have eliminated the death penalty if it weren’t for the terrorist acts of October 27–1999. The Foreign Minister assured that Armenia would come up with a solution by May–the deadline set by the CE.
Touching on the dual citizenship issue–Oskanian said that the President has taken this to the National Assembly–and during Parliamentary elections–to take place in May–the issue of constitutionally banning dual citizenship will be subject to a popular.
Russia plays a leading role in the Nagorno Karabagh regulation process–since it is an OSCE co-chair. The case of criminal actions by Azerbaijan in Nagorno Karabagh is not closed. Armenia has the right to once again take the case to international courts.
On the deliberate destruction of cemeteries and Khachkars in Jugha (Nakhichevan)–Oskanian said that Armenia has filed an official complaint with UNESCO on the matter. Although Armenia possesses some photo facts of the committed crimes–a special delegation must–nevertheless–be sent to thoroughly investigate the site.
Oskanian praised the second Pro-Armenia–stressing that the first Pro-Armenia took place almost a century ago to develop external relations of Armenia’s in Europe–and was supported by numerous French intellectuals and political elite–included Jean Joresse.
Oskanian concluded that the present conference would recreate and strengthen–in early 21st century–the ties of Armenian people and political figures of various countries.