Interviews and press conferences
The joint press conference of President Serzh Sargsyan and the President of the Czech Republic Miloš Zeman
The statement of President Serzh Sargsyan at the joint press Conference with the President of the Czech Republic Miloš Zeman
Your Excellency Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to pay my first state visit to the Czech Republic at the invitation of the President of the Czech Republic.
We just held substantive and productive talks with President Zeman in the atmosphere of complete mutual understanding. We discussed both issues of our bilateral agenda as well as current regional and international topics.
We noted with satisfaction that since the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries we have registered prominent progress in interstate affairs. A dozen of documents on different fields signed today and to be signed tomorrow attest to it. We outlined healthcare, environment, decentralized collaboration, trade, economic and cultural cooperation as the areas of prospective cooperation. We stressed the necessity of widening business connections and stimulating investments, promoting people-to-people contacts and developing tourism. The direct flights under operation between our capitals serve as an important prerequisite for that. We attached importance to the ongoing Armenian-Czech business forum within the current visit.
We mutually highlighted the importance of the inter-parliamentary cooperation supported by the friendship groups established within the two parliaments.
We underlined the necessity of consistent development of cultural, educational and scientific ties. This year Yerevan and in 2015 Prague will respectively host Days of Czech and Armenian cultures. Mr. President proposed us to more actively encourage our youth to study in the Czech Republic, and I am surely grateful for that.
We reaffirmed the mutual will to deepen cooperation between our states within the framework of such international platforms as the UN institutions, OSCE, Council of Europe as well as the EU Eastern Partnership.
Prague stands high on Armenia’s European agenda, which is a priority in our foreign policy. About five years ago it was precisely in Prague, where Armenia undertook a commitment to enhance closer cooperation with the EU upon the start of the Eastern Partnership. This commitment was reaffirmed at the Vilnius summit last November. We are determined to continuously enhance and expand our relations with the EU. In this respect, we expect the support of friendly nations, especially the Czech comprehensive support.
We are convinced that different integration processes may certainly be developed based on compatibility and cooperation rather than controversy. In this sense the Eastern Partnership might serve as a natural bridge fostering economic integration from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean. We are committed to make consistent efforts toward constructing more inclusive Europe, free from dividing lines. I am thankful to Mr. President for his understanding toward our decision to join the Customs Union. I am also thankful to the President of the Czech Republic for the invitation to the Eastern Partnership Summit that will take place on April 24, in Prague and I am particularly thankful for appreciating my visit to Prague on the 24th of April, bearing in mind that on the 24th of April Armenians across the world pay their tribute to the victims of the Genocide.
We highly appreciate the constructive position of the Czech Republic in support to the efforts of the OSCE Minsk group co-chairs to find a peaceful resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. In November 2013, after a two-year interval the meeting of the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan took place in Vienna, which by itself is a positive step in the negotiation process. The direct contacts on the presidential level are important stimulus to the ongoing negotiations under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group, which is the only format of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution. The principles and provisions embedded in the Presidents’ statements of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chair countries – Russia, the USA and France – provide appropriate ground for the just and enduring settlement of the conflict. We share the stance of the co-chair countries that those principles and provisions should be viewed as a whole and the attempts to prioritize one over the other will make consensus and conflict settlement impossible.
Nevertheless, the settlement of the problem is not realistic unless Azerbaijan abandons the malicious policy of bellicose propaganda, incitement of arms race and provocative actions along the line of contact. It’s high time for Azerbaijan to adopt a constructive stance on the exclusively peaceful settlement of the conflict. Here let me make a very important emphasis, Mr. President: we expect from the international community to show impartial approach or at least to be guided by the principle of not harming the process.
I completely shared the view of President Zeman that the regional conflicts shall be resolved through exclusively peaceful means and negotiations.
I assess our meeting as productive and hope that the Armenian-Czech dialogue and cooperation will develop and widen in different fields by mutual efforts and based on already existing grounds.
I thanked President Zeman for warm hospitality and invited him to pay a state visit to Armenia and I am thankful that he was pleased to accept the invitation.
The statement of President Miloš Zeman during the joint press conference with the President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan
Dear Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am happy to welcome the President of Armenia at Prague Castle. I told him that the histories of our nations are to some extent similar. Next year is the 100th anniversary of the 1915 Armenian Genocide during which one and a half million Armenians were killed. I also told Mr. President that the genocide would have threatened the Czech people as well if Germany had won the Second World War.
Nevertheless, we should look into the future, and one of the key objectives of the future is the consolidation of both commercial and cultural ties. As for the trade relations, I need to say that the Czech businessmen represented in rapidly-developing Armenia with high Gross Domestic Productgrowth , have lots of opportunities to invest in energy, transport and various other fields. However, those advantages are not always fully taken. So, It was a pleasure to accept the invitation of the President of Armenia to visit his country, and I have promised to take with me a large delegation of Czech businessmen.
The non-formal nature of our relations is proved by both the fact that we have just now concluded six cooperation agreements and that tomorrow seven additional agreements will be signed at the business forum. Moreover, we highly appreciate the fact that some of the agreements to be signed tomorrow also incorporate regional cooperation, such as cooperation with Karlovy Vary region, since the regional cooperation is as essential as the interstate one.
Thank you for your attention.
Question – Hrayr Tamrazyan - “Liberty” Radio – Mr. President, the Russian side insists that Armenia makes so much efforts to join the Customs Union that it has prepared all the documents in order to join that union. What makes Armenia join that union so rapidly when the very initiator of that union, Russia, indifferently follows how the border regions are bombed by Azerbaijan every day? And if Russia is Armenia’s ally within the CSTO framework, how will you comment the fact that Russia sells a huge amount of modern weaponry to Azerbaijan?
Serzh Sargsyan – Here I have two observations, Mr. Tamrazyan. The first observation is that we are not used to complaining. I am not used to complaining myself. The second one is that I think you have the opportunity to address me these questions in Yerevan and if you address them in Prague, I have to merely answer to you that every work which you undertake must be done as fast as possible and with as the best possible qualities possible. As far as we have made a decision to join the Customs Union, we must do it as soon as possible. Why to pace down? Sinceour national interest underlies our decision, therefore that decision must be fulfilled as promptly as possible. This is in the first place. Secondly, I would like to remind that the Customs Union is first of all an economic rather than a military structure. In addition, we should not cast doubt over the Armenian-Russian strategic cooperation. Yes, the Russian side, namely the Russian Government, cooperates also with Azerbaijan, but it does not mean that we have a right and an opportunity to forbid the Russians from cooperating with Azerbaijan. As for the events occurring on our borders, you had myself the opportunity to be assured yourself that we totally control the situation. We have all the opportunities to protect our territorial integrity, the inviolability of our borders and by the way, I should say that those capacities have been built and are currently being replenished by the efforts of the Russian Federation as well. Thank you.
Question – Petrovka – CTK (Czech News Agency) – I address my question to the both Presidents. What specific steps the Czech Republic may take to support Armenia in order for it to be within the common customs union with the European Union (EU) and the second question which, I apologize is an internal question; M.r. President what would it have meant if today Mr. Babish had lost the case on the cooperation with STB organization being heard in the Slovakian court and whether it would have changed anything inside the Czech Government. Thank you.
Miloš Zeman – Thank you. Indeed, two questions were completely different. I think that the President of Armenia will respond to the question pertaining to Mr. Babish (The President of the Czech Republic makes a joke turning toward the RA President and smiling), and I will speak about the other question. Thus, the question is about the Czech Republic’s attitude to the fact that Armenia has not initialed the Association Agreement in Vilnius and decided to enter into a customs cooperation with the Russian Federation. We completely respect this decision which also becomes clear from the negotiations between our delegations. We believe that the question should not be put either we cooperate with the EU or with the Russian Federation. The cooperation with both parties is necessary.
Serzh Sargsyan – As you know, our membership to the Customs Union does not exclude the continuation of our cooperation with the EU. We made a joint statement with the EU in Vilnius by which we confirmed our further commitment to cooperation and we will continue to utilize our cooperation with the EU as a good stimulus and means for the reforms in Armenia. We have proposed the EU to sign an Association Agreement without the free trade agreement because the regulations of the Customs Union and the free trade, not because of our fault, contradict to each other, and I think that we will cooperate with the EU more intensely than previously. By its positive reaction the Czech Republic may, of course, foster that process and such a position already does so. I see balanced approach of President Zeman and the new members of the Czech Government to our decision pertaining to the Customs Union and to the cooperation with the Russian Federation, and this is a vital, encouraging and essential circumstance. I am very grateful for such a position. We will continue the cooperation with the EU and will enhance the relations with the Customs Unionbecause the interests of the Republic of Armenia and the Armenian people require so.
Question – Gevorg Altunyan – Public Television – The question is addressed to the both Presidents. Last year, on November 5 Turkey and the EU opened the consecutive 22nd chapter of the negotiations on the membership after three and a half years of interval. How do you assess the perspectives of Turkey's membership to the EU and what is your position on this issue?
Miloš Zeman – The President of the Czech Republic will hardly touch upon the border confrontation between Turkey and Armenia. I would like merely to say that neither trade and tourism nor the political confidence between the two states benefit from the closed borders. I will only welcome if they reach the real opening of the Turkish-Armenian borders.
Serzh Sargsyan – I have heard this question thousand times but I have not changed my opinion during these years. Turkey's membership to the EU is first of all the business of the EU member states. The 28 states must give their agreements to this issue separately. And this by itself implies a complicating process of obtaining agreement of 28 states. For Armenia, Turkey’s membership to the EU first of all means the opening of the borders. Definitely, it will be much easier for us to deal with a democratic and predictable state. And being a member of the EU means exactly this. Today as years ago we think that the Republic of Armenia and Turkey must establish relationtions without preconditions, and the membership of Turkey to the EU creates such preconditions. I have no doubts that many European states pursue their interest in Turkey. Yet< at the same time I believe that not interests, but values dominate within the EU. I am also sure that Turkey's membership creates also sufficient conditions in order for Turkey to face its history without fear, since an EU member state has done so. That is a very good example. In conclusion, I need to repeat that Turkey’s membership to the EU is first of all the business of the member states, but our stance sounds the way Iformulated. Thank you.