03, 2011

Joint press conference of the President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan and the President of the Swiss Confederation Micheline Calmy-Rey

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President Serzh Sargsyan’s remark at the joint press conference with the President of the Swiss Confederation Micheline Calmy-Rey

Madam President,
Ladies and Gentlemen:

I am happy to welcome the President of Switzerland, Mrs. Micheline Calmy-Rey to Armenia. Although this is the first official visit of the President of the Swiss Confederation to Armenia, Mrs. Calmy-Rey has been here before. Our public is well aware of her efforts and input to the resolution of the problems which persist in our region. Switzerland, which has a rich experience of neutral and unbiased active international policy, has always displayed interest towards our country and our region. The history of our ties dates back centuries. In 1897, the Swiss government was among the first to condemn the Armenian massacres in the Ottoman Empire carried out in 1894-96 as crimes against humanity. When the Armenian Genocide took place, the Swiss lend a hand to our people through the individual missionary and medical activities as well as on a state level. And carrying on with that wise tradition of missionary work, in 2003 the National Council of Switzerland adopted resolution on the recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide.

Madam President, the Armenian nation is grateful to Switzerland for its principled and consistent policy and, certainly, for the condemnation of that horrendous crime. Since Armenia’s independence, our interaction has acquired a new quality. The Armenian side welcomed the decision to upgrade the diplomatic representation of Switzerland in Yerevan to a full-fledged embassy which creates extraordinary opportunities to expand our bilateral cooperation and reflects the true state of our relations. During our meeting, we reiterated the necessity to expand our economic cooperation. We are interested in the implementation of the Armenian-Swiss economic programs and, considering the existing positive experience, in the encouragement of Swiss investments in Armenia. Among successful instances of cooperation, I would like to note participation of Swiss companies in the development programs for Tsakhkadzor, Jermuk, and Tatev which are aimed at the utmost exposure of the tourist potential of these residential settlements. Armenia is thankful to the Swiss Cooperation and Development Agency for the implemented programs and, of course, for the social and economic programs carried out in the Republic of Armenia.

We have also spoken about cultural cooperation and active contacts between Armenia and Switzerland. We are confident that cultural contacts promote understanding between our peoples and strengthen our friendship. At the 25th International Book Fair, which will take place in Switzerland in April-May, Armenia will participate as an honorary guest. I have also cordially invited the Swiss side, and particularly Madam President, to take part at the celebrations in Yerevan which has been declared the 2012 World Book Capital; these celebrations will mark the 500th anniversary of the Armenian book printing.

We have also stressed the importance of the Armenian-Swiss cooperation in international organizations – UN structures, OSCE, Council of Europe and in the framework of francophony.

We have also touched upon the process of normalization with Turkey; the Swiss are well-aware of the dynamics of the process. I addressed special thanks to Madam President for the Swiss government’s and personally her invaluable mediation efforts and contribution. I noted with regret that Turkey evades the fulfillment of the assumed obligations and such stance devalues our initiative and also the efforts of the involved parties.

We have also discussed the latest developments in the NK peace process, including the trilateral meeting in Sochi. I want to believe that this time the Azeri authorities will be consistent and their word and their deeds will not differ. I naturally reiterated our position that the conflict has only one solution – solution based on the peaceful realization by the people of Nagorno Karabakh of their internationally recognized right for self-determination. The conflict must have a peaceful resolution, which is to be achieved through peace negotiations, no matter how knotty and hard it may be.

I once again thank Madam President for productive talks and now it’s my pleasure to give her the floor.


President of the Swiss Confederation Micheline Calmy-Rey’s remarks at the joint press conference with President Serzh Sargsyan

Thank you, Mr. President,
Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen:

Thank you for this invitation. This is the first visit by the President of the Swiss Confederation to Armenia and we manifest mutual strong resolve to actively develop cooperation between Switzerland and Armenia. I should note that my visit is signified by an important event – today the Embassy of Switzerland in Armenia will be inaugurated. It should also be noted that Switzerland and Armenia have developed a broad legal field which allows to actively develop our relations. As I have already mentioned, we possess an entire legal arsenal, particularly agreements for economic cooperation, mutual protection of investments, avoidance of double taxation and recently signed agreement on air transportation. Our economic relations are good, even though our turn over, definitely remains very modest and needs to be increased. There is also unused potential and the Swiss authorities are undoubtedly for the development of economic relations. I believe that invigoration of our contacts, reciprocal visits and meetings have also contributed to the strengthening of our ties. And these ties have of course further strengthened in the framework of the cooperation which we carry out for the improvement of the relations between your country and Turkey. Certainly, we have a long way to go; nevertheless I think that political courage and responsibility that were displayed in 2009 with signing of the Armenian-Turkish Protocols allow to believe that the desired results will be achieved. Switzerland is Armenia’s reliable partner and we established our presence in Armenia many years ago through the Swiss Agency of Cooperation and Development. We also cooperate with your Ministry of Territorial Administration and with their assistance we implement, for instance, programs of milk processing and horticulture in Synik marz. We have also established close cooperation with the Armenian Ministry of Emergency Situations, particularly, in the area of natural disaster prevention. With this regard, tomorrow I am leaving for Gyumri where I will attend and observe what the Swiss have done in that area. Switzerland started cooperation with Armenia in the area of natural disaster, particularly, earthquake prevention in 1988, in the wake of the devastating earthquake in Armenia.

In conclusion, I would like to once again express hope that our cooperation in the economic and other areas will deepen, and with this regard, Mr. President, I am happy that you will be visiting Switzerland this May.


The question is for the two Presidents: How would you comment on the proclamations of Azerbaijan’s State Aviation Agency, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a number of other structures that they will destroy any aircraft which will attempt to land at the airport of Stepanakert. Incidentally, the proclamations have been made regarding the resumption of Yerevan-Stepanakert flights.

Serzh Sargsyan: The people of Nagorno Karabakh have every right to use air transportation services - this is incontestable. It is also incontestable that the authorities of Nagorno Karabakh as well as the authorities of Armenia should coordinate the issue with the appropriate bodies, and I am confident the process will have a positive outcome. As for these proclamations, there have been lots of them in modern history. However, there is a “but”. Such statements have always been made by terrorist organizations, no state has ever made such a statement. When a state makes such a statement, it’s a marasmus, proclamations of a sick person. Tardy, past things. When a state declares that it is going to destroy an aircraft, what’s that suppose to mean? No need to comment on such a statement, however I can make my own statement: I, the President of the Republic of Armenia, will be the first passenger on that flight.

Micheline Calmy-Rey: Since the question has been addressed also to me, I would like to say that we, certainly, follow the events and, in general, situation related to Nagorno Karabakh with great interest. There is no doubt that the conflict will be solved in the framework of the Minsk Group. Even though we are not active members of the Group, I still want to note that recently I have visited Azerbaijan and met with President Aliev. I have spoke with him also about the forthcoming meeting with President Sargsyan.

One question for each President. Mrs. Calmy-Rey, after the Armenian-Turkish relations came to a standoff, you have urged the parties to initiate new steps towards the normalization. Could you please specify if You’re going to continue with th mediation efforts, or have, so to speak, “washed your hands”? And a question to the President of Armenia – another anniversary of the Armenian Genocide is approaching: What Armenia expects to hear in the annual address by the President of the United States? Will President Barack Obama this year use the word Genocide, or will refrain from using it with the excuse that it may harm the Armenian-Turkish relations?

Micheline Calmy-Rey: It should be noted that the Swiss mediation ended in October, 2009 with the signing of the Protocols. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t say that we “have washed our hands” and remain indifferent to what’s going on or rather not going on between Armenia and Turkey. Switzerland wants the process of ratification of the Protocols to resume and we stand ready to do anything that could encourage both sides to do it.

Serzh Sargsyan: If you ask what we want, then naturally, we have always wanted for the President of the United State to provide in the annual address a clear-cut judgment and definitely to utter the word Genocide. I have expressed my opinion on that on many occasions and can say now that in one’s time, I personally asked the President of the United States to say the word. However, wishes and reality are two different things, and the best thing is when your wishes and the reality coincide. Let’s hope that this time it will be just like that. But if it’s not the case, we have no reason to despair and will continue to struggle to get there. I would suggest that your editorial staff, a very influential periodical, plays its role in the process.

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