EU OFFICIAL RULES OUT MILITARY SOLUTION TO KARBAKH CONFLICT
- Military force will not resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, according to Van Rompuy, President of Council of Europe.
In an exclusive interview with the Armenpress News Agency, the European official said that only a peaceful process could contribute to stability in the South Caucasus region and make it a gateway between Europe and Asia. He expressed support to efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group which acts as a broke in the peace deal.
The full interview is below.
Mr. President, in the past few years Armenia and the European Union have registered important progress in their bilateral relations. In your assessment what further steps do the two parties need to enhance the quality of these relations? We are experiencing overall progress in the EU-Armenian relationship. The Association Agreement is moving forward, and we have started negotiations on the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area. Earlier this year we also launched negotiations on Visa Facilitation and Readmission Agreement. In addition to this, the European Union provides different forms of support to Armenia including on institution building. Let me underline that the European Union is in many ways a community of principles and values.Armenia has, as a partner in the Eastern Partnership, signed up to share these values. Closer association between the EU and Armenia is directly linked to this aspiration. I therefore encourage Armenia to continue on the path of reform, towards strengthening democratic institutions, promoting transparency, human rights and the rule of law. The stronger Armenia's commitment to pursue genuine reform, the more we will be able to cooperate and support you. In this context, the EU welcomes the efforts made by the Armenian authorities to deliver more transparent and competitive parliamentary elections. This was an important step forward, although there still are a number of issues that will need to be addressed, as identified in the Final Report by the OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission. We trust that these issues will be addressed before the upcoming Presidential elections. How long, in your opinion, will it take to conclude Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement between Armenia and the EU, and in which particular ways can it be mutually beneficial for the parties? There is no time limit for the negotiations. Their pace depends on the willingness and readiness of the parties to advance. The outcome and the results matter more than the speed of such negotiations. Three rounds of negotiations have been scheduled for 2012 and given the commitment presented by Armenia so far, the EU considers that the negotiations could progress smoothly and rapidly. I expect that this future agreement will open up many new opportunities for Armenia. Exporters will be able to take advantage of the further opening of the EU internal market for Armenian goods and services. It is known that progress in Armenia-EU relations was mainly due to Eastern Partnership initiative, in which six countries take part. How do you assess the progress of this initiative and what countries have registered the best results? We launched the Eastern Partnership in 2009 with a clear aim to support reforms in Eastern partner countries, and accelerate their political and economic association with the European Union. Much has already been achieved. Negotiations on Association Agreements with Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Areas are very well advanced with the Republic of Moldova, Georgia and, as I mentioned, Armenia. Similar negotiations have already been completed with Ukraine though final ratification will depend on the respect of the values Ukraine signed up to through the Eastern Partnership. Selective justice and criminalisation of the opposition are for instance not compatible with these values. Negotiations on an Association Agreement are also under way with Azerbaijan. We are also aiming to make travel between the EU and partner countries easier for citizens, with visa free regime as the ultimate goal. We already have a process with the Republic of Moldova and Ukrainein place for visa liberalisation, and we will soon start a similar exercise with Georgia. Negotiations on visa facilitation and readmission agreements are under way with Armenia and Azerbaijan and a comparable offer has been extended to Belarus. The EU can also offer support to reinforce institutions, and such co-operation is advancing well in Armenia, Georgia and Moldova. Additionally, the Eastern Partnership provides a platform for multilateral cooperation between the EU and all six partners to enhance regional cooperation and exchange best practices. Civil society, national parliaments and local and regional authorities are also associated to these initiatives. The EU is determined to continue support partners by sharing know-how, giving political support and providing financial assistance. Nonetheless, this support is determined by the pace of reforms. The settlement of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is one of the priorities of the EU in the South Caucasus. It was very often stated that the EU wants to contribute to confidence building measures between Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan. Could you please specify what are those measures and in what other spheres the EU is ready to contribute? I would like to underline that military force will not resolve the conflict. Only a peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict will help transform the South Caucasus into a stable region and a fully functioning gateway between Europe and Asia. This is clearly in the best interest of our partner countries, Armenia and Azerbaijan, and is also an important interest for the European Union. The EU has reinvigorated its support to the work of the OSCE Minsk group. We welcome all the considerable efforts, including the latest statement at the G20 summit, of the Co-Chairs; France, theRussian Federation and the United States of America. The responsibility to reach an agreement is essentially in the hands of Armenia and Azerbaijan, and we urge them to pursue a peaceful solution based on the Madrid principles with vision, wisdom and courage. We are concerned at the slow progress in the negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan to resolve the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. And it was with great concern that I learnt about recent violence along the Line of Contact and the border between Azerbaijan and Armenia. I deeply regret the tragic and unnecessary loss of life. The European Union has repeatedly expressed readiness to contribute to confidence building measures, where it can help the work of the OSCE Minsk Group. In this regard, the European Union is prepared to further promote the engagement of civil society in confidence-building and contacts between the populations on both sides. This will help foster trust and allow people affected by the conflict to fully take part in the debates on perspectives for peace. In addition, the EU conducts regular political dialogue with both partner countries, and has also appointed the EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia, Ambassador Phillipe Lefort. We also support the OSCE-proposed mechanism to investigate ceasefire violations and stand ready to share the EU's relevant experience and good practices in promoting conflict transformation. Recently the European Parliament has adopted a resolution, expressing the wish to have unconditional access to Nagorno-Karabakh. What were the incentives for such steps? Can this be considered as a step in the direction of de jure recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh? No, this does not constitute any form of recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh. The Council of the European Union, as well as the European Parliament, have underlined the need for unrestricted access for EU representatives to Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding regions. For the EU, this is a principled and pragmatic matter, as it would help turn into action our readiness to support confidence building measures now and to provide rehabilitation and reconstruction assistance once a settlement is achieved. The Armenian-Turkish border is the last one in Europe. Is it acceptable to have closed borders in the 21st century in modern Europe, while Turkey is still trying to impose precondition for the establishment of Armenian-Turkish diplomatic relations? The European Union encourages Armenia and Turkey to normalize their bilateral relations without preconditions (from any side). We believe that the full normalization of relations between Armenia and Turkey would be an important contribution to security, stability and cooperation in the Southern Caucasus. We call on both countries to continue their dialogue and remain committed to the process. An important first step would indeed be the opening of the border.
- 1862 The first rebellion of Zeytoon against Turkish exactions.
- 1921 The Red Army enters Sissian.
- 1995 The International Court of Justice makes a pronouncement (90) in the Case Concerning East Timor (Portugal vs. Australia). Certain aspects of this document may be significant in the resolution of the Artsakh crisis.
- 1999 Senator Brownback speaks during the 145th Congress (Record S7840) in favor of tipping American policies in Transcaucasia in favor of Azerbaijan.