09, 2008

President Serzh Sargsyan met with journalists /in Shirakamut village/

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Mr. President, lately the President of Turkey made a number of comments regarding his visit to Armenia and his meeting with you. What would you say?

I think the visit has already been evaluated by both Armenian and Turkish societies. All reviews prove that majority of people in both societies viewed the initiative and the visit of honorable Mr. Gul to Armenia positively. Our objective was to improve the tone, and I think we have succeeded. During the negotiations President Gul mentioned more than once that there is political will present today in Turkey to talk about the problems existing between us. I think it is noteworthy that he didn’t condition these words by any provision, it is very important for us. I am also glad that President Gul shared his impression of our meeting with the President of Azerbaijan and I believe that it is vital that the spirit, the atmosphere and the letter of these negotiations are extended over. During the meeting, President Gul said that he was ready if necessary to assist in improving the Armenian-Azeri relations and I accepted that offer with pleasure since only a madman can refuse assistance. Assistance should be distinguished from mediation. I am confident that any move that can assist the Co-Chairs of the Minsk Group in solving the issue should be viewed only and only positively. With President Gul we discussed also another Turkish initiative - the idea of creating the Caucasian platform. I want to be precise on this issue as well. From the very beginning the Turks stated that their initiative is not an alternative to any other structure or format but rather is directed at the improvement of the general environment. I think it is quite natural that we too welcome that initiative; we have no right to avoid any discussion, especially if it is about the upgrading our security. Only people who have nothing to say or suffer from complexes avoid discussions and contacts. We don’t have any complexes, we live in this region, we have neighbors and with some of them we have excellent relations. We had no relations with the one of our neighbors until President Gul’s visit, with the other neighbor we should restore and improve our relations. With this regard we must be both initiators of contacts and active participants to the meetings. We have things to say, we never suffered and will not suffer from the inferiority complex. We are second to no one, we are no better than anyone; we treat everyone with respect and would like to be treated in the same way. I would like to add that yesterday I received a letter from President Gul in which he hailed our negotiations and conversation, his visit in general and a rather lengthy meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs after the football game. I think this will help you draw some conclusions.

Mr. President, after the game you shook President Gul’s hand while the Armenian fans were somewhat disappointed. Aren’t you concerned that this might be comprehended differently or not comprehended at all?

You see, I was not desperate but I felt pain too. I also felt pain when our national team was defeated by the Spaniards. It is one thing to feel pain and the other to take that pain with dignity. And in general, I think that that match, even though it wasn’t an outstanding one from the sport point of view, was an honest contest and we witnessed that the strongest became the winner. We should understand the current position of our football players: it so happened that their last two games were played with number one and number three teams of Europe. Yes, the desire to win was great, but it didn’t happen. I think all normal people should act this way: when one loses a fight, that fight should be concluded by shaking the winner’s hand. I don’t see it any other way. By shaking President Gul’s hand I didn’t just do my duty as a hospitable President. I want to say that each of us should take our pain and our defeat with dignity. I must tell you that I did the same thing in Beijing when our wrestler was defeated by an Azeri wrestler. I got up and congratulated Ilham Aliev. As a result, later same day on some other site he congratulated me. If we suffer from complexes, if we try to find justification for our weaknesses, blaming them on referees or windy weather or something else we will never become successful. I am confident that our fans as well as the majority of our people understood that gesture properly.

Mr. President, after the deterioration of the Georgian-Russian relations Armenia faces somewhat difficult issues of being able to continue historically-formed relations with two friendly nations. How successful are we on that issue?

I think all those who have been following our actions should admit that we have been both sincere and as well as honest in our actions. It has been that way, it is today and I am sure it will be in the future that we really have strategic relations with the Russian Federation, we are strategic partners. We also have been living side by side with the Georgians for millennia. We must be able to fulfill our duties both as a neighbor and as a strategic partner. If we are able to differentiate these two and be honest, I think we will be successful. I spoke about these issues in Sochi with the President of the Russian Federation, Dmitri Medvedev. I will probably visit Georgia soon and will talk about these issues with the President of Georgia.

Mr. President, lately the most discussed issue in the media is the decision of the executive body of the Armenian Republican Party to nominate Hovik Abrahamian, now former Chief of the Presidential Staff for the post of the Speaker of the National Assembly to replace Tigran Torossian. What would you say?

I think that the decision speaks for itself. The Republican Party went through two elections, fulfilled its task regarding these two elections and now has undertaken the task of increasing the efficiency of the state apparatus. If we evaluate these two experienced political figures, and this is what I am trying to do together with my colleagues and party members, we would arrive at the conclusion that with Hovik Abrahamian there is a good chance that the role of the National Assembly will increase. I believe that Hovik Abrahamian, taking into consideration his administrative skills, can do it. Tigran Torosian, with his knowledge and experience, can be very useful on some other direction, in some other place. There is nothing extraordinary about this. The extraordinary thing in my opinion is that crocodile’s tears are being shed in some papers, those very papers that a week or ten days before were insulting Tigran Torossian personally are now are trying to defend him. Tigran Torossian does not need protection. We appreciate his contribution, his knowledge, we appreciate his work, but at the same time we are confident that every one should work where he or she will be most efficient.

Mr. President, two days ago Armen Sargsyan, who was convicted for the murder of journalist Tigran Naghdalian, was released from jail. What do you think of this, can this be considered a pardon?

Armen Sargsyan appealed to me months ago, and due to his health condition and certain family circumstances, he asked for a pardon. The answer to your question is no, I don’t consider this to be a pardon. He was not pardoned, rather with power vested in me I have shortened the duration of his sentence. After that he had appealed to the court, which, taking into consideration circumstances mentioned above and considering that the punishment served the purpose, decided that Armen Sargsyan would be able to rectify out of jail as well, and made that decision. That’s what really happened.

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