FM Edward Nalbandian’s interview to Slovenian daily newspaper `Dnevnik’
12:14 | March 14,2015 | Official
FM Edward Nalbandian’s interview to Slovenian daily newspaper `Dnevnik’
AleÃ…Â¡ Gaube: Your country is in a very interesting position in the
Caucasus, Russia is Armenia’s biggest ally, and can you explain me how
good ally for Armenia is?
Edward Nalbandian: Saying ally is meaningful, it means many things,
means more than good, friendly relations. With Russia we have very
strong historical links. Our friendship passed the test of time.
AleÃ…Â¡ Gaube: I’m asking because Russia here in two different conflicts
on your borders unresolved disputes Â¦and approaches providing also
arms sales to Azerbaijan ` your de facto enemies, that’s why I’m
asking how does this fact influence your relations with Moscow?
Edward Nalbandian: We would prefer Russia not to sell arms to Azerbaijan.
But we’re not asking friendly countries, partner countries to do
something for Armenia against somebody else. What we are expecting
concretely on Nagorno-Karabakh issue is not to support one side
against the other, just to be in line with the position of the
international community, expressed by the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk
Group. And Russia is one of the three Co-Chairs. Five statements on
the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement were adopted by the Presidents of
Co-Chair countries ` Russia, the United States and France.
Our position is in line with those statements, with the proposals of
the Minsk Group Co-Chairs. We welcomed all those five statements of
the Co-Chair countries and said that we are ready to go to the
settlement on the basis of three principles of the international law
and the elements, proposed by them.
AleÃ…Â¡ Gaube: Where has this conflict Â¦ or couple of decades, where
hasn’t moved towards in the negotiations of the Minsk Group taking
place for several years. Is it all in the interest of big powers that
this territorial dispute in the Caucasus resolve?
Edward Nalbandian: I don’t think we have to blame big powers or small
countries or anybody else. Over last six years three Co-Chairs have
been working hard as mediators, they have organized around twenty
Summits, several dozens of Ministerial meetings, they have made
innumerable visits to the region.
One of the sides of the conflict ` Azerbaijan, in reality is opposing
the settlement on the basis of the proposals of the Co-Chairs.
Azerbaijan is refusing all proposals on the conflict resolution and
suggestions on confidence building measures.
AleÃ…Â¡ Gaube: Is Azerbaijan in this case more powerful, is it more
powerful because its energy capacities ` gas and oilÂ¦ ?
Edward Nalbandian: Azerbaijan is bragging about its power, but it is a
big illusion. Country, which is preaching war, not peace couldn’t be
powerful. Azerbaijan has increased military budget about 30 times in
10 years, has multiplied bellicose statements, hate speech, and
regularly threatens to use force.
After all wars, sides have to return to the table of negotiations. but
in worse conditions. We have a possibility to continue the
negotiations together with three Co-Chairs. Why not to use this
opportunity and this chance to move to the settlement, based on the
proposals of the international community.
AleÃ…Â¡ Gaube: Is it because of Nagorno-Karabakh that Armenia supported
referendum of independence by Crimea?
Edward Nalbandian: If you mean the UN General Assembly resolution, we
are not in favor of prioritising of one principle of international law
over others. We couldn’t pretend that all principles of the
international law are equal, but one of them is more equal than
others. In any case, self-determination is the purpose of the Charter
of the United Nations.
When the Co-Chairs are proposing three principles of the international
law ` non use of force and threat of force, territorial integrity and
self-determination, Azerbaijan is picking up only one principle, that
of territorial integrity, ignoring the other two. This approach can
not lead to a solution.
AleÃ…Â¡ Gaube: Since annexation of Crimea last year the West and Russia
are stuck in new Cold War ` how the relationships are now described `
Does this new Cold War affect your country? Do you have to choose
between the friends?
Edward Nalbandian: I do not think that problems between Russia and
other countries could be in the interest of anybody ` Europe, the
United States, Russia and other countries. The confrontation is not
the best way to find solutions. All problems can be solved through
dialogue, negotiations, and that is why we were among the first who
welcomed Minsk 1 and Minsk 2 agreements.
AleÃ…Â¡ Gaube: If I return.. But you have to choose, actually, among
friends. Last year was very unexpectedly that Armenia scrapped the
association part of the European Union for joining the Eurasian
Economic Union, which is considered as tool of Vladimir Putin to
maintain a grip on the countries of former Soviet Union?
Edward Nalbandian: Maybe you are not aware, but Armenia before
expressed many times its interest to join the Customs Union, Eurasian
Union. We made it public through several statements by the President,
Prime Minister, Foreign Minister. Simply Armenia was not invited to be
the part of Customs Union. Since it was explained that we have no
common border with the Customs Union member-states.
A Special Working group was created with the participation of the
Armenian Government, Eurasian Union Commission representatives, which
came to the conclusion that, it is possible to become a member of the
Customs Union and then of the Eurasian Union without common borders.
After this conclusion, in September 2013 we confirmed our will to join
the Union. We adopted the roadmap and started negotiations from the
beginning of the last year. We completed negotiations and became a
member of the Eurasian Union since January of this year.
AleÃ…Â¡ Gaube: Are you satisfied with first results ofÂ¦ ?
Edward Nalbandian: Only two months have passed. Membership in the
Eurasian Union has important strategic significance for Armenia. It
enables us to have facilitated access into protected markets of goods,
united market of services of Eurasian Union, to attract investments,
to have access to resources, to the transport corridors, to have free
movement of goods, capital, services and people. I am not an expert in
that field, I am not an economist, but the advantages are apparent.
AleÃ…Â¡ Gaube: Final outcome of the Eurasian economic union should be
free trade agreement with European Union? Do you see this happening in
the perceiving future concerning, regarding the political difficulties
between Russia and the European Union?
Edward Nalbandian: I think it is possible maybe not today or tomorrow,
but certainly later, because this is in the interest of all countries
of this wider area. The idea of common security and economic space,
free trade area from Lisbon to Vladivostok is not a new one and was
raised in different capitals. I think it is in the common interest to
AleÃ…Â¡ Gaube: South Caucasus was always considered to be .. of different
relations and Â¦ amongst big powers. Just today United States announced
that 3000 soldiers Baltic states to deter Russian aggression. Do you
think that some similar intervention of United States could happen
also in Caucasus region?
Edward Nalbandian: There is no need of presenting things from the
confrontational perspective and I am not looking on the developments
in this region from this angle.
AleÃ…Â¡ Gaube: I am asking because I am trying to find out what your
concerns are maybe afraid of militarization of the region.
Edward Nalbandian: The main threat to the security and stability of
the region is Azerbaijan ` country, which increased its military
budget from 163 million to almost 5 billion dollars in 10 years,
country which is threatening to use force, country which is constantly
making belligerent statements, propagating hate speech. This is the
real threat. And we have to think how to address it, to find peaceful
and negotiated solutions to the existing problems in the region.
AleÃ…Â¡ Gaube: Are you focusing now more on resolving of the
Nagorno-Karabakh issue or trying to open up again the borders with
Turkey? Last time, it coincided a little bit and then both solutions
Edward Nalbandian: That was the initiative of our President to start
negotiations with Turkey, aimed at the normalization of relations
without preconditions. Before it our relations were in a deadlock. Our
President invited President GÃ¼l for a soccer match in Armenia. This
initiative became known as `Football diplomacy’. We conducted very
intensive and tough negotiations and came to the agreements. We signed
two protocols in Zurich in October 2009. But Turkey was not able to
ratify and implement them. Turkey failed to respect the principle of
pacta sunt servanda. And that’s why the international community ` many
countries of the world ` said the ball is on the Turkish court.
Turkey returned to the language of preconditions, trying to link
Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement with Armenia-Turkey
normalization. Many countries underlined that attempts to link the two
issues could harm both processes. One of the old Turkish
preconditions, reanimated after Zurich was related to the Armenian
Genocide recognition. But Armenia unequivocally said and repeated: we
will never question the reality of the Armenian Genocide and the
importance of its international recognition and condemnation.
AleÃ…Â¡ Gaube: Just the last question. Can Russia help you as a good
friend of Turkey to again put this dialogue on a passed phase?
Edward Nalbandian: First of all Turkish Government has to be friend of
the Turkish people to act in the interest of its people. Do you think
that the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations is more in the
interest of any other country than Turkey and Armenia? Of course, this
is in the interest of Armenia, in the interest of Turkey, in the
interest of our region.
But, unfortunately, Turkey did not have courage and wisdom to ratify
and implement agreed and signed protocols. So this is not about
waiting for anybody to play a role to push forward normalization of
relations between Armenia and Turkey. First of all, Turkey has to
reconsider what it has done wrong. Back then I had warned that with
this approach of Turkey, their proclaimed policy of `zero problems
with neighbours’ would turn into `zero neighbour without problems’.
Nowadays everyone is reaffirming this view.
AleÃ…Â¡ Gaube: Thank you very much.
Edward Nalbandian: Thank you.