La Stampa Italian newspaper interviewed Serzh Sargsyan who paid an official visit to the Holy See and working visit to Italy as President of Armenia on April 4-6 (his tenure ended on April 9).
“Armenia’s President Sargsyan is in Rome on a working visit: “I know that President Mattarella wants to pay tribute to the memory of the victims in Yerevan”.
“Today there is no progress in the negotiations on Nagorno Karabakh because Azerbaijan’s expectations are unrealistic”.
– Mr. President, what messages did you bring in terms of your institutional meetings and what responses did you receive on main topics relating to your country more than a quarter century later since independence?
– On Thursday, we together with the Pope participated in the inaugural ceremony of the statue of St. Gregory of Narek in Vatican who was proclaimed Doctor of the Church as an acknowledgement of efforts aimed at maintaining Christian values by the Armenian people. President Mattarella told me that he plans to visit Armenia. During the meeting with the representatives of the two chambers of the Parliament we highlighted the importance of developing inter-parliamentary relations, especially taking into account the fact that we have been inspired also by the Italian model in the process of transitioning to a parliamentary system.
– Did you also meet with the leaders of political structures?
– Of course, we had a chance to meet with the leaders of the parties. I am very happy to state that they also will visit Armenia in the near future. We are excited with the positions of these figures towards our country.
– President of Artsakh Bako Sahakyan urged Italy, as an OSCE chairing country, to do what the previous chairing countries never did – to visit Nagorno Karabakh. What is your opinion on this matter?
– Nagorno Karabakh is a vital issue. I want to note that both President Mattarella and President of the Senate Casellati support the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship format. There is also the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement signed between Armenia and the European Union which includes the same formulations on Artsakh as used by the Minsk Group Co-Chairs to respect the three main principles for the conflict settlement: non-use of force or threat of force, equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and territorial integrity of states. After the ratification this Agreement will become a law for all member states of the EU. Today there is no progress in the negotiations on Nagorno Karabakh because Azerbaijan’s expectations are unrealistic. The EU must convince Baku to refrain from dreams, and in that case the Minsk Group will be effective. In this sense I asked President Mattarella to hurry up Brussels.
– Can it be the start of Artsakh’s recognition process?
– Recognition, of course, supposes security, when it is established, we will first recognize the independence of Artsakh. Recognizing the independence now would mean halting the negotiations. The important is the recognition by Baku.
– It seems Aliyev is not inclined to cooperation, quite the contrary…
– It’s not the first time Aliyev makes aggressive statements, and he is not the first Azerbaijani president making such remarks. The former presidents as well were making the following statements: “We will visit Stepanakert in a week to drink tea”. Fortunately, this didn’t happen. The politician should never set before him an insurmountable bar because by that way he hurts himself. When Aliyev announces that Armenia’s historical territory is Azerbaijan’s land, he should remember that Azerbaijan appeared on the political map for the first time just 100 years before, but we will mark the 2800th anniversary of capital Yerevan in autumn on 2018.
– Coming to the Genocide: World leaders plant trees in the Genocide Memorial, Tsitsernakaberd, for memory of the victims. Pope John Paul II, Jacques Chirac, Vladimir Putin planted trees here, but there is no name of any Italian president here. Why?
– Because during these 25 years no Italian president visited Armenia. I hope after the visit of President Mattarella one more tree will be planted in this park. This will be an important political message, but the decision to recognize the Armenian Genocide must be adopted by the Parliament. Italians had a great contribution to the humanity development, and the genocide is the opposite action of it.