08, 2008

Interview of President Serzh Sargsyan to the Austrian "Der Standart" daily

“Make friends with Russia, don’t get too close to the West,” wasn’t this the lesson Moscow gave the South Caucasus countries by invading Georgia?

If you take a look at Armenia’s history you’ll see that friendship with Russia has never been imposed. It is needless to say that the friends are not acquired by force, or kept by force. I will not speak for other countries but at least with Armenia Russia maintains very open, sincere and ensuing relations.

Moreover, our strategic partnership with Russia never impeded our normal, efficient cooperation with the regional or other states, and international organizations. It is proved by the extent of our cooperation programs with the European Union and NATO, and dynamically developing relations with the European countries, the United States, and Iran.

This is not the first time Armenia suffers the consequences of the Georgian-Russian crisis. What would you advise your Georgian colleagues regarding relations with Russia?

Advising is an ungrateful job. The backbone of our policy in the recent years has been the notion that the small states of our extremely sensitive region should do their best not to antagonize but rather to mitigate differences of the superpowers. It is easy to get a short term profit from the periodically emerging disagreements among the great states in any region. However it is much more difficult but much more practical to try to genuinely cooperate in the area of mutual interests.

Taking into consideration all the challenges that we face, it is senseless to create new dividing lines and artificial ideological camps.

In Armenia there is an important Russian military base. Is Russian dominance in the South Caucasus beneficial for Armenia?

For Armenia, as for any other state, the beneficial thing is efficient sovereignty. Nowadays, sovereignty includes also participation in capable international and regional security structures.

With this regard Armenia made a decision to participate at the Collective Security Treaty Organization, and the founding document of that organization stipulates that aggression against any of its members signifies assault against all its members.

I think that in our time the military bases are not a sign of dominance but rather of the efficient cooperation.

What conclusions will bring this intervention into Georgia for another “frozen conflict” – Nagorno Karabagh’s?

Tragic events in South Ossetia proved that the attempts to give a military solution to the struggle for self-determination in the South Caucasus are charged will very serious military and geopolitical consequences. Recent developments showed the real danger of the arms race, unjustified increase of military budget, and belligerent calls in the South Caucasus.

At the same time these events proved that the free will of the people struggling for self-determination must be at the core of the resolution of these conflicts, and that any solution must be based on the expression of that free will. Any other approach inevitably leads to ethnic cleansing and violation of the international humanitarian law.

The events proved once again the importance of the efficient use of the existing infrastructure, highways, transportation knots, and pipelines, as well as the necessity of creating alternate routs and extensive infrastructure nets in the region.

Turkey has not yet responded to the Armenia’s proposal to establish diplomatic relations without preconditions. Recently you have invited the Turkish President to Armenia. What makes you think that the Turkish leadership is now more open for a dialogue?

We are ready to establish diplomatic relations with Turkey without precondition right away. Armenia has always been true to that political course which was stated more than once. Today the circumstances of our relations are such that nobody benefits from them; on the contrary, many suffer from them. I am sure that there is no need or sense of being constant adversaries. It is obvious that the issue of normalizing relations has matured and it would be a mutually beneficial step for the Turkish and Armenian societies. I recall that months ago Prime Minister Erdogan noted that now the doors are open for a new dialogue.

I am confident that we can have such a dialogue if there is a will, and President Gule’s visit to Armenia will fortify positive tendencies. Days ago my Turkish colleague declared that Turkey has no enemies in the region. I am sure that tangible steps toward the normalization of the relations will serve as practical enforcement of that statement, and these steps can bring real results. We may have numerous problems, but we won’t be able to solve them if we do not communicate at the level appropriate for civilized states and if our countries lack the appropriate political relations.

← Back to list