MFA: Speech of Minister Oskanian at the League of Arab States

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January 19, 2005

Your Excellency Mr. Secretary General

Your Excellencies Permanent Representatives at the League of Arab States

The signing of a Memorandum of Mutual Understanding between the Foreign
Ministry of the Republic Armenia and the League of Arab States is certainly
a historical event. This opens an important new page for further improving
and deepening Armenian-Arab relations.

Signing this document is the natural consequence of the centuries-old
historical and cultural links between Armenians and Arabs. It is also the
result of the persistent execution of Armenia’s foreign policy.

Armenians are among the region’s oldest nations, with a historical and
cultural past that is strongly interlinked with other peoples in the region,
including Arabs. For centuries, Armenians have had a great input towards the
development of culture, economy and science in the region. In turn,
throughout history, Armenians have come under the influence of neighboring

Our common history is full of pages of friendship and cooperation with
thousands of examples of instances of reciprocal support.

At the beginning of the last century, Armenians, victims of Genocide in and
by the Ottoman Empire, lived the most tragic pages of their history. There
is a popular saying, in Armenian as well as Arabic, that essentially means:
‘a friend in need is a friend indeed.’ During those dreadful days, when
Armenians were either killed or forcefully deported from their ancestral
homes, Arabs rendered assistance to the Armenian refugees, supplied them
with shelter and provided them the urgent assistance they needed. Armenians
not only survived in Arab countries but they were given the opportunity to
rise and become full citizens in their new homes, while preserving their
national identity establishing schools, culture and sport clubs.

Grateful Armenians will never forget the humane approach of the Arab people.
This historic reality naturally had influenced the foreign policy of newly
independent Armenia.

Since gaining independence, the Republic of Armenia has been committed to
improving relations with Arab states and, in the Middle East Peace Process,
always expressed its solidarity with the Arab position.

We highly appreciate the mediation efforts of the Quartet and the work done
in that direction. We consider very important both the Road Map and the
development of constructive dialogue between the parties in the conflict
resolution process. The establishment of an independent Palestinian state is
at the core of the process of establishing regional security and stability.
It would directly eliminate regional tensions, change the existing
sociological trends and create new opportunities for mutual cooperation.

I am confident that the election of Mahmoud Abbas to the position of
President of the Palestinian National Authority will have a crucial impact
on this process.

Events in Iraq remain under the constant attention of the international
community. It is our desire to see Iraq a sovereign, united, stable and
democratic state and we are ready to take part in the realization of these

We cooperated with Arab states on various issues within international
organizations (arrangements, institutions).

Within a short period of time, we have achieved tangible successes in our
relations with Arab states: we have signed a number of bilateral documents
in various fields, we have created intergovernmental commissions, we have
frequent exchange visits and we’ve established working ties at all levels.
We also conduct mutual cultural events.

Armenia adheres to the policy of complementarity, which means that we build
our international relations not on the basis of competition and rivalry
between powers but rather on the basis of co-operation and complementarity.
We are doing our best to develop mutually beneficial relationships with both
regional parties and powers with interests in our region.

Touching upon the Nagorno Karabakh issue, I should stress that we are
committed to a negotiated settlement of the conflict and international
recognition of the right of self-determination for the people Nagorno

Since 1994 the truce has been observed by the conflicting parties. Regular
meetings between the Presidents and Foreign Ministers of Armenia and
Azerbaijan under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group are aimed at finding a
mutually acceptable solution to the conflict. We highly appreciate the
mediation efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group and we consider it to be the best
international format for the settlement of the conflict.

I wish to particularly stress that the Nagorno Karabakh conflict is purely
a matter of self-determination and has no religious basis whatsoever.
Azerbaijan’s efforts to attach religious motives to the conflict are not
only groundless, but they are unacceptable and dangerous. We flatly reject
Azerbaijan’s attempts to attach a religious character to the conflict. We
also reject their ill-intended efforts to draw parallels between themselves
and the Palestinians, by presenting themselves as victims of the conflict.
Those steps by Azerbaijan are intended to gain the sympathy of the Islamic

Any conflict is unique in nature, but if one wishes to draw parallels, then
in this case it is the Armenians of Nagorno Karabakh who, like the
Palestinians, strive for free determination of their own destiny in their
historical homeland, without foreign domination.

Armenians have lived in Nagorno Karabakh from time immemorial and, with the
exception of the Soviet period, this land has never been part of Azerbaijan.
The only desire of the Armenians of Karabakh is to correct Stalin’s unjust
decision to forcibly attach Karabakh to Azerbaijan.

Your Excellency Mr. Amre Mousa,

We highly appreciate the role of the League of Arab States in strengthening
the sovereignty of Arab countries and in ensuring Arab solidarity. Despite
many difficulties the League did not loose its significance and continues to
prove its vitality and importance. We are confident that with its immense
potential the League is able to play a decisive role in establishing
regional stability, ensuring natural development of Arab countries and
broadening cooperation between them.

I would like to particularly acknowledge your efforts in making the League
more viable and in introducing new qualities to the organization. We are
well aware of the commitment that you always display in safeguarding the
interests and rights of Arab countries, and supporting unity and solidarity
among them. Taking this opportunity we would like to express our support to
your efforts and we wish success to all your initiatives.

I wish to congratulate all of us on the occasion of the signing of this
historical document and express our confidence that the Arab League will
contribute to the further development of mutually beneficial Armenian-Arab
relations and to strengthening the friendship between our peoples.

Esteemed Mr. Amre Mousa,

In conclusion, I would like to sincerely thank you for the warm reception
and support that you and your staff have kindly provided in the course of
preparation of this document and our visit.

Shuqran aleiqom.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress