10, 2010

Presidents Serzh Sargsyan and Danilo Türk held joint press conference in the framework of the official visit of the President of Slovenia to Armenia

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Introductory remarks by President Serzh Sargsyan at joint press conference with the President of Slovenia Danilo Türk

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We have just concluded our meeting with the President of Slovenia Danilo Türk. In my opinion, we have had a comprehensive and efficient dialogue on strengthening our cooperation and on a number of regional and multilateral issues of mutual interest.

I would like to note that this the first visit of the Slovenian President to our country. After achieving independence both countries were going through the most important period of formation of state structures, each of us with its own foreign policy priorities, so not surprisingly our relations were not developing fast enough. I am glad that this visit has taken place, and I am hopeful that in the future high-level reciprocal visits will be conducted on a regular basis.

The agenda of our talks was pretty heavy, however I would like to mention its most important part: the leaders of the two countries reiterated their readiness to deepen bilateral relations. Obviously, it emanates from the interests of Armenia and Slovenia. We also agreed that cooperation in the economic, trade and cultural areas has serious potential and we agreed to take additional measures to give a new impetus to our cooperation.

Four significant interstate agreements have been signed that create a good basis for the expansion of the legal field of bilateral cooperation and enhancement of cooperation in different areas.

Two among them - Convention on Avoidance of Double Taxation of Income and Property and Agreement on Economic Cooperation - are essential documents for the regulation and development of the Armenian-Slovenian cooperation.

It’s no news that in the contemporary world, economic has become a priority issue and very often the economic interest becomes a decisive factor in shaping political agenda. With this regard, we highlighted the importance of the Armenian-Slovenian Business Forum conducted concurrently with the Presidential visit, and signing of the Memorandum of Understanding between the Development Agencies of the two countries with the conviction that enforcement of economic component is vital for bilateral relations.

Armenia is impressed with Slovenia’s economic achievements. Slovenia’s economic growth put her in a leading position in the group of EU new member states. We attach great importance to the attraction of Slovenian investments and experience in the Armenian economy.

We agreed on the importance of expanding cultural ties and human contacts. With this regard, the Agreement on Cooperation in the areas of Education, Science and Culture will enhance humanitarian relations, familiarization with each other’s culture and will, in general, promote contacts between our two peoples.

Also important was singing of the intergovernmental agreement on visa free regime for the holders of diplomatic passports. We view it as a step toward further liberalization of the visa regime with the European Union.

Overall, we view the Armenian-Slovenian cooperation in the context of Eurointegration. President Türk and I concurred that that EU Eastern Partnership Program opens new prospects for cooperation and agreed to further deepen cooperation in the framework of the Program.

I also presented to the President of Slovenia the NK peace process and recent developments. The position of the Armenian side on this critical issue remains unchanged: the conflict must be solved exclusively through peaceful means, in compliance with international norms. And the sooner Karabakh joins the negotiation as a legitimate party, the sooner the solution will be found. Or rather, the sooner Karabakh rejoins the negotiations, the greater will be the prospects of reaching a positive outcome to the issue.

Discussed were also other issues of regional and international significance; we stressed the importance of a deepened cooperation in international organizations.

I would like to express my sincere appreciation to President Türk for comprehensive discussions. Now, I am pleased to give the floor to President Türk.


Introductory remarks by President Danilo Türk at joint press conference with the President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan

Thank you, Mr. President. Allow me to say that my delegation as well as thirty-five leading Slovenian businessmen are happy to be here in Yerevan to discuss possibilities of cooperation, including economic cooperation, between our two countries. Armenia is greatly admired in Slovenia as a country with rich culture and ancient civilization, a country with present-day ambitions and as a country which can have significant input to regional cooperation in the Caucasus.

In our bilateral relations, I would like to underscore importance of culture. Experience shows that culture can become not only a source of inspiration and admiration but also a tool and means of practical cooperation. Earlier this year at the main cultural center of Slovenia “Cankarjev Dom” organized were a series of events dedicated to Armenia and Armenian culture which provided the Slovenians as well as the guests of our country an opportunity to familiarize with the Armenian culture and artistic heritage. Next year, here in Armenia we will organize days of Slovenian culture in Armenia. Today, President Serzh Sargsyan awarded the Movses Khorenatsi medal to the Director of Cankarjev Dom Mitya Rotovnik; it can be viewed as a symbol of our relations and testifies to the seriousness of our intentions. This is very important for us since culture brings peoples closer and facilitates international cooperation. I am also looking forward to the Business Forum - President Sargsyan and I are going to be there. I believe that there are many areas of cooperation which can be very promising for the businessmen, among them for instance, chemical and pharmaceutical production, medical services, and many other areas.

This morning President Sargsyan and I held a very interesting and useful discussion on security issues. I believe that in recent years international security environment has considerably improved. I believe there are new initiatives which should be given due consideration and which have potential to strengthen security all over the world. A good example of such an initiative is the latest initiative by President Medvedev regarding new European security architecture.

NATO is developing a new strategic security concept which will be adopted in November in Lisbon. And judging from the ongoing process, it could be expected that the new strategy will provide a new framework, new opportunities for further strengthening of security in Eurasian and Euroatlantic regions. EU has announced its policy regarding cooperation with the member states of the Eastern Partnership program. Slovenia believes that in the future Eastern Partnership will become a priority for the European Union. Europe’s cooperation with Russia and countries of Eastern Partnership can provide a new touch and new substance to Europe’s future security policy in Eurasian and Euroatlantic regions. Armenia is an important part of that strategy and in this region one of the countries in the most sensitive situation. In order to solve all regional problems, security problems the world should listen to Armenia, the world should understand Armenia, and should work with Armenia and in name of future should launch extensive cooperation. Obviously, for practical implementation of all these various steps could be taken. Particularly, it will require a certain decree of liberalization of people’s movement. We should achieve progress. Slovenia subscribes to the principle of visa facilitation for this entire region. Today’s signing of the agreement on visa free regime for the holders of diplomatic passports is a step in that direction. It’s a modest but considerable step, and I hope that similar steps will be taken in the future as well. We have also spoken about a number issues related to regional security, and I am grateful to President Sargsyan for the most exhausting and comprehensive clarifications regarding the problem of Nagorno Karabakh. Based on his analyses and observations, I conclude that it is crucial to move forward down the road of peaceful resolution of the conflict, I repeat – peaceful resolution of the conflict, together with confidence building measures which should be undertaken immediately. The definition “Frozen conflict” is delusive and misleading. “Frozen conflicts” mustn’t be left frozen, they must be defrosted and solved. And one of the main bridges leading toward the resolution is confidence building.

In the end, we spoke about the possibility of creating regional mechanisms in the Caucasus. As the President of Slovenia, I am sure that there are examples of such mechanism in any European subregion, which allow neighboring states to unfold efficient and peaceful cooperation.

Ladies and Gentlemen, these introductory remarks have been probably a bit longer than usual but only because our talks were multifaceted since the prospects of our cooperation are very promising.


Presidents Serzh Sargsyan and Danilo Türk answer questions during joint press conference

Countries, which support Kosovo’s independence, constantly stress that Kosovo is a special case. Nevertheless, political considerations set aside, the arguments brought in support of that assertion are politically, ethically as well as legally groundless. Dispute regarding the right of people for self-determination and territorial integrity, and I think you will agree with me on this one, has not started and will not end with Kosovo, and the growing number of the UN member states proves it. What’s your opinion of these two principles?

Danilo Türk: Answering your question, I would like to mention that these two principles never act on their own. There are numerous intermediate situations and steps preceding their implementation. The interesting aspect of your question is what’s so special or unique about Kosovo? Allow me to explain: in 1998, after certain events, the UN Security Council declared that Kosovo posed a threat to international peace. Later, the declaration on recognizing Kosovo as a threat to international peace became the basis for carrying out military and other actions in Kosovo. As a result, in 1999 Kosovo was put under international administration. In 1999, UN’s Kosovo mission was created which conducted the mentioned above international administration in the region; as a result, Kosovo was taken out of Serbian and the then Federal Republic of Yugoslavia’s jurisdiction and control. Undoubtedly, the status of Kosovo was the most important factor, and it was taken into consideration for outlining recent advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice. As you know, in its decision the Court noted that the declaration of independence proclaimed by the Kosovo’s National Assembly, which was created in accordance with the UN rules of international administration, didn’t violate international law. At the same time, the Court very carefully stayed away from saying anything about self-determination per se. I believe that that silence was one of the peculiarities of the advisory opinion, reticence of the Court on the issue of self-determination.

In response to the question raised by the representative of the Armenian Public TV, I would like to repeat that both territorial integrity and right for self-determination do not operate spontaneously or on their own. Each and every case is special and different. And each case demands solutions which would be coherent with international norms and peculiarities of that particular situation. Certainly, Kosovo is moving now toward getting a final resolution stemming from the peculiarities of its situation.

Serzh Sargsyan: I am absolutely sure that each case of self-determination is different and “one size fits all” formula doesn’t apply. However, legal rulings must emanate from the same principles. The Kosovo precedent is important for us from the standpoint of the UN International Court’s unequivocal answer to one particular question: whether the unilateral declaration of independence breaches international law or not. The answer was “no”, it does not. Now, what has happened in case of Karabakh? Contrary to the will of the people of Nagorno Karabakh, for an instance in its millennia long history, for some decades it was made part of Azerbaijan. The people of Karabakh never resigned themselves to that decision, even during the period of Stalinist repressions. And at the first opportune moment they exercised their right of self-determination, i.e. unilaterally declared their independence through the referendum. As you know, it took place when the Soviet Union was disintegrating. It means, that the people of Nagorno Karabakh acted in compliance with international law. Azerbaijan unleashed war on Karabakh – a brutal and exhausting war, violating all military laws. But Nagorno Karabakh, of course with the assistance of Armenia and the Armenian people, was able to organize self-defense. That’s what makes it different: the people of NK were able to defend themselves without NATO assistance, survive and today declare out loud – yes, we stand by our independence, we didn’t violate any international law, and today we wait patiently when the international community recognizes our right to unilaterally secede from Azerbaijan. However, I believe that the notion that all cases are different is indisputable.

As far as I know, Slovenia supports Turkey’s membership to the EU. However, it is hard to perceive Turkey as a EU member since this is a country which is unwilling to open Europe’s last closed border, which supports Azerbaijan’s policy of isolating Armenia and in order to get political dividends misuses Armenia’s good will to establish normal neighborly relations. My question is and it is directed to the President of Slovenia: should the EU open its doors for Turkey, or the doors will remain closed as long as Turkey doesn’t comply with the European standards?

Danilo Türk: Slovenia acknowledged and noted the fact that Turkey has started its efforts towards the EU membership some decades ago, much earlier than Slovenia became the EU state. Slovenia became the EU member in 2004 and advocates further enlargement of EU. We hope that very soon our neighbor Croatia will become a member of the European Union and that in 2011 negotiations with Croatia will be concluded.

Some years ago, Turkey received status of a candidate for the EU membership. Currently, Turkey is in the process of negotiations, furthermore, these negotiations are progressing slowly. Without doubt, and candidate state must satisfy all the requirements for the EU membership. I am confident that Turkey not only realizes and comprehends these standards but is also getting ready to move ahead and uphold these standards. There can be no exemptions. Slovenia also complied with those requirements, now Croatia is doing the same, Turkey too will be compelled to comply with them.
In this context, Slovenia welcomes signing in Zurich almost one year ago of the Armenian-Turkish Protocols on the normalization of bilateral relations. We urge Turkey to go on with the process, to move forward in the framework of the process, because we want these Protocols to become operative so that their implementation is not delayed.

And in conclusion, regarding Nagorno Karabakh – as I have already said, I believe that in order to move forward it is necessary to carefully establish confidence building measures among the parties. All other actors, including Turkey, should very carefully assist in successful implementation of these confidence building measures. I would have been happy to present today a more ambitious program. But today’s reality demands first of all to reinforce trust. Any country of the world engaged in the process should realize it and act so as to only and only encourage the enforcement of trust.

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