DUBLIN, Ireland—Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian, as well as Armenian opposition leader Raffi Hovhanissian, on Friday addressed a summit of the European People’s Party in Dublin, Ireland.
President Sarkisian reiterated his government’s desire to maintain close economic and political ties with Europe, despite opting to commit to a Russian-led trade bloc comprised of former Soviet states, which is widely regarded by E.U. leaders as incompatible with European trade policies.
In his address the President also publicly addressed the Ukraine crisis for the first time since its breakout, relating it to Armenia’s desire for close relations with both the EU and Russia.
“The Ukrainian events are a matter of serious concern to all of us,” the President said. “As in the past we believe that expanding and deepening relations with a partner should not result in the emergence of new dividing lines. Armenia will continue its policy of complementing and harmonizing interests.”
Sarkisian also expressed his hope that the European Union would continue to work with Armenia to develop the country’s public sector and to fight against poverty and corruption.
Sarkisian also appealed for pressure to be applied to Turkey for its denial of the Armenian Genocide and for its more than 20 year blockade of the Armenian border.
“Today, when the world is getting ready to mark the centennial of World War I and the horrors it unleashed, Turkey continues its policy of denial, attempting to bury the memory of more than one million victims of the Armenian Genocide,” Sarkisian said, reminding the audience that Turkey is a European Union partner. “Disregarding the demands of a nation that was deprived of its homeland, [Turkey] refuses to repent for what has been done and pursues a xenophobic policy, the root aim of which is to harm Armenia and Armenians.”
“‘Never again!’ has been our motto, born of calamity that two World Wars brought. But there is only one way to make that motto come true: it is to remember, to condemn, and to demand. It is incomprehensible and unacceptable to us that manifestations of fascism are being tolerated, when evident hate speech of the President of Azerbaijan — a Council of Europe member state — is ignored,” the President concluded.
Leader of Armenia’s opposition Heritage Party and founding director of the Armenian Center for National and International Studies, Raffi Hovannisian, also spoke at the European People’s Party (EPP) summit.
The former presidential candidate opened his remarks by first expressing solidarity with the Ukrainian people’s democratic choice, calling for a peaceful, principled resolution of the current crisis.
Hovannisian also urged the EPP to restore confidence in Europe by correcting past mistakes, by respecting its own standards of liberty, democracy, and the rule of law, and by never again validating fraudulent elections and accepting those who do not bear the de jure trust of the people. In this regard, Hovannisian asserted, not only Russia but also the EPP itself and most particularly Armenia’s authorities are responsible for the country’s unacceptable domestic situation and foreign policy choices.
Raffi Hovannisian called on the EPP and its member parties to recognize the sovereignty of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic (Artsakh), which, parallel with the fall of the Berlin Wall, triggered the dissolution of the Soviet Union and shares virtually nothing in common with other conflicts often considered as protracted or frozen.
He concluded his speech with a challenge to the European People’s Party to treasure its own heritage and values by preparing formally to recognize and condemn the Armenian Genocide and Great National Dispossession on its centennial anniversary due next year. The Genocide entailed not only the loss of more than a million lives, but constituted the decimation of an ancestral homeland and an ancient civilization.
Hovannisian also spoke on these and other relevant matters at a seperate policy seminar, organized by the Center for European Studies, on the crisis in Ukraine and its implications upon the re-launching of the Eastern Partnership.
Outside of the meeting, Raffi Hovannisian met with scores of officials and delegates from across Europe, including EPP President Joseph Daul, Ireland’s Prime Minister Enda Kenny, Chairman Charlie Flanagan of the Irish Fine Gael Party, Ukrainian leaders Vitalii Klitschko and Yuliya Tymoshenko, former President Hans-Gert Pottering of the European Parliament, Chairman Mark Green of the International Republican Institute, and President Mikulas Dzurinda of the Brussels-based Center for European Studies.
He also exchanged views with European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and Greek Prime Minister Adonis Samaras, who had been Hovannisian’s counterpart as minister of foreign affairs.