STEPANAKERT (Combined Sources)—Uruguay recognizes and supports people’s right to self-determination, said Uruguay Parliament Speaker Jorge Orrico during a meeting at chambers of the Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh Republic) National Assembly on Wednesday as he continued his visit there.
”We are a peaceful country and have come here on a peace mission. Though we are a small nation yet we have always been free and realize that other nations also deserve the right to self-determination. We always consider that there is only one path and that is freedom,” said Orrico, who led a delegation of Uruguay parliament members Artsakh. “While cases may vary, it is clear to all as to what the situation is Nagorno Karabakh.”
Orrico arrived in Artsakh Tuesday and, along with his delegation, met with President Bako Sahakian. He became the highest ranking foreign official to visit Artsakh.
Artsakh Presidential spokesperson David Babayan said Orrico’s visit signaled the beginning of a new stage in the foreign policy of the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic.
“We are interested in developing relations with other countries and it is not conditioned by other issues, in particular, those related to recognition. Recognition is a key issue on Karabakh’s foreign policy agenda, but it is not a requirement,” said Babayan.
Official Baku was quick to react to Orrico’s visit to Artsakh by sending a note to Uruguauy.
“The visit of several Uruguayan parliament members does not change anything except escalate the situation. Armenian forces are behind it and it harms the negotiating process. Armenia realizes that Azerbaijan is able to reclaim its territories, but at this stage it adheres to peaceful solutions to the conflict. Azerbaijan is able to return its lands,” Azeri forign Miistry spokesperson Elman Abdullayev said on Wednesday.
“Uruguay should realize that such steps are dangerous to the fragile peace process. All should realize that sooner or later Azerbaijan will restore its territorial integrity,” he said.
What Abdullayev did not state was that Orrico met with the Azeri Ambassador to Uruguay Mammad Ahmadzade, during which they discussed expanding cooperation between the two countries.
Uruguay Might be First to Recognize Artsakh
Uruguay parliament foreign relations committee member Ruben Martinez Huelmo, in response to a journalist’s question about Uruguay being the first to recognize the independence of Artsakh, said: “I can honestly say, theoretically, YES,” reported the Stepanakert-based Aparaj newspaper.
He added that “this is political process and it must develop step by step.”
“Visiting Artsakh is not such a bold move, it merely a step. We are friend with the Armenian people. We must especially stress the role the ANC office plays in fostering Armenia-Uruguay relations,” added Huelmo.
During the meeting with Sahakian and his staff, development of bi-lateral relations with Uruguay was discussed.
Sahakian emphasized that Artsakh and Uruguay are friendly nations, which possess many shared characteristics including their history, their government philosophy. These characteristics, Sahakian said, are beneficial for development of relations between the two countries.
President Sahakian praised Uruguay’s role in the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide, as well as that country’s balanced approach to the recognition of Artsakh and Karabakh-Azerbaijan conflict resolution process.
The two leaders emphasized the imperative for strengthening relations and the need for concrete steps to achieve this goal.
Joiing Orrico and Huelmo in Uruguay delegation were parliament members Ricardo Planchon, Richard Sander and Daniel Radio.
Participating in the meeting were Artsakh Parliament Speaker Shot Ghoulian, Artsakh’s Foreign Minister Karen Mirzoyan, Armenia’s Ambassador to Uruguay Vahagn Melikyan, Armenian National Assembly members, including Armenian Revolutionary Federation bloc member Vahan Hovannesian and representatives of the Armenian National Committee of Uruguay.
Orrico is on an official visit to Armenia at the invitation of Armenia’s Parliament Speaker Hovik Abrahamyan. The Uruguay official visited Dzidzernagapert memorial monument and held meetings with officials. Uruguay was the first country to recognize the Armenian Gencoide in 1965.
In September, 2011, in an unprecedented announcement the Foreign Minister of Uruguay Luis Almagro said that his government has begun the process to make an official announcement regarding the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, reported Asbarez.
“Today we are looking into the issue [Nagorno-Karabakh] in order to present an official government position on the matter,” said Almagro at the time. “I am personally convinced that Nagorno-Karabakh is part of historic Armenia and it must be independent and in a short while be unified with Armenia. This is the only resolution to the Artsakh issue.”
Almagro was speaking at conference in Uruguay’s capital organized by the Armenian National Committee of South America and the Uruguay-Armenia parliamentary group marking the 20th anniversary of the Armenia’s Independence, highlighting Uruguay-Armenia relations.
Hovannesian, who was in Montevideo at the time of Almagro’s announcement, welcomed the statement calling it unprecedented.
“For the first time, a progressive and democratic country such as Uruguay is officially expressing a position, which reflects the posturing of the ruling political forces,” said Hovannesian in 2011, who stressed that the process will take some time.
“I’m honored to represent the country, which was the first to recognize the Armenian Genocide,” Orrico said, speaking at Tuesday’s Armenian National Assembly session.
Armenia and Uruguay have a number of similarities: both are small states surrounded by large countries, Orrico said.
Orrico recalled that Uruguay was the first country to recognize the Armenian Genocide and began the process of international recognition of the Armenian Gencoide.
“We are the grandsons of those Uruguayans, who opened their hearts in 1915 to accept the persecuted peoples. We are honored to be the first to accept the Armenian Genocide by law. It happened on April 22, 1965. I would like to note that we have an Armenian Genocide museum in our country and every year on April 24 we hold commemorative events at the Chamber of Representatives. We are a piece of Armenia in South America,” said Orrico.
“We are an open country and are trying to become the most democratic in our region. If there were just a few countries Uruguay was cooperating with several decades ago, today it has economic relations with over 120 countries of the world and is proud of the steady economic growth for nine years in a row and an attractive investment climate,” explained Orrico.