Interviews and press conferences
At the meeting with the representatives of the mass media, President Serzh Sargsyan and OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, President of Swiss Confederation Didier Burkhalter recapped the results of the negotiations
Statement by RA President Serzh Sargsyan at meeting with mass media representatives after negotiations with OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, President of Swiss Confederation and Head of Federal Department of Foreign Affairs Didier Burkhalter
Distinguished Mr. President,
Honorable ladies and gentlemen,
I am glad to welcome the President of the Swiss Confederation, the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office Didier Burkhalter and the delegation led by him in Yerevan.
We discussed a broad range of issues on the Armenian-Swiss cooperation agenda, as well as touched upon the current regional and international security challenges and collaboration issues in the context of the Swiss OSCE Chairmanship.
We stated with satisfaction that since the establishment of diplomatic relations our countries have managed to create a meaningful and inclusive cooperation agenda; reciprocal visits of presidents, opening of embassies, promotion of constructive dialogue between our foreign affairs ministries and parliaments. Switzerland has carried out assistance programs being of great importance for Armenia.
We praised the recent years’ constant growth rates in bilateral trade thanks to which Switzerland is our 4th European trade partner. We showed our interest in enlarging the Swiss business community in Armenia which includes around 40 Swiss companies and welcomed the Armenian-Swiss business forum held in Zurich this May and the upcoming visit of Swiss businessmen to the Republic of Armenia.
We highlighted the International Organization of La Francophonie as a relatively new important platform for the Armenian-Swiss cooperation considering also that there was a time when Mr. President had close ties with that organization.
We reaffirmed our mutual commitment to further advancing cooperation in the OSCE format. I once again told Mr. Burkhalter that Armenia is going to support Switzerland in all phases of the Swiss OSCE Chairmanship. We attach importance to Switzerland’s famous image of an impartial and honest mediator in international relations. We strongly believe that the Swiss Chairmanship will do its best to promote the OSCE agenda by means of stimulating straightforward and effective dialogue, conforming to the OSCE principles and supporting effective political dialogue between the member states.
We dwelled on the subject of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. I reaffirmed Armenia’s commitment to finding a solution to this complex issue as soon as possible. We agree that the conflict can’t be resolved by means of war; on the contrary, it will become more complicated. The threats of use of force and the regular violations of the ceasefire greatly hinder the negotiation process. We clearly mention that the primary confidence building measure is, inter alia, the demonstration of proper respect towards the Nagorno-Karabakh people. Finally, this is a national liberation struggle for exercising the fundamental right to self-determination and any solution which neglects this reality is doomed to failure. We strongly believe that in order for it to be effective every negotiation effort and process should take into account the position and opinion of the Nagorno-Karabakh people. We stated that the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship is the most optimal format to resolve that conflict.
We praised Armenia’s effective collaboration with all OSCE structures, and I asked the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office to tell all our partners in that authoritative organization that Armenia is really interested in further advancing collaboration in the areas of democratic reforms, protection of human rights and freedom of speech.
On behalf of our people, I expressed my gratitude to Mr. President for the recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the Swiss Parliament, Switzerland’s devotion to universal values, as well as for its unbending commitment to promoting those values.
We stated that because of Turkey’s lack of commitment the Armenian-Turkish protocols mediated by the Swiss Confederation have been frozen up to the present day. In any case, we appreciate the role Switzerland played in that complicated process. I am sure that Turkey’s illegal blockade of Armenia should always remain in the focus of all international organizations, including the OSCE.
Now I am pleased to give the floor to President Burkhalter.
Statement by OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, President of Swiss Confederation and Head of Federal Department of Foreign Affairs Didier Burkhalter at meeting with mass media representatives after negotiations with RA President Serzh Sargsyan
Thank you very much, Mr. President and dear colleagues, for your welcome, for your warm welcome here in Armenia. It was a pleasure, as well as a very interesting time to have a possibility to discuss, to have a dialogue with you, with your teams about foreign issues regarding the bilateral relations as well as the OSCE activities. As to the bilateral relations first of all I would like to say and to affirm that they are very friendly, they are developing over the years as you already mentioned, as you said as well there is an interest for enhancing the economic activities and the economic cooperation, private and public investments, private investments from the Swiss corporations. We need a bilateral agreement, a framework, which is a good one. That is the case here in Armenia and it needs also to be known, to have a forum. You mentioned the business forum in Zurich last month and also the upcoming mission for this month of June here in Armenia coming from the Swiss Office for Economic Development. And about the development cooperation, I would like to remind that this common story started at 1988 during the period of the earthquake, and then it was developed in project, and transformed very concretely in project and we have now a project, for instance in the rural economic development, also in the disastrous reduction. We try to prepare also something in vocational education and training in agriculture which is an interesting project for the future. As to the OSCE activities, first of all I would like to thank Armenia for the steady support we got from your country during these first months and also during the preparation of the presidency of the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe. Thank you for it. It is very important, it is very important to be impartial like you said. Switzerland is an impartial country, OSCE must be an impartial organization then this year we have a sort of double impartiality and it can be useful for the international community and we try to be useful in that sense. Thank you as well for the thorough support for the OSCE activities here in Armenia. They are useful for Armenia, they are concrete, results-oriented, full-fledged mission here in Armenia and we are grateful for this very good cooperation. About Ukraine, also I thank to have got the support of Armenia in March as we got decision in consensus of the 57 member states for the special monitoring mission which was a milestone in this difficult crisis. About Nagorno-Karabakh, now this conflict dealt with by the Minsk conference. I would like first of all to say as Chairmen-in-Office and also as Swiss President my full respect in front of such a difficult issue, such a difficult and long-lasting format for finding a solution. We know that it is very difficult and we do not underestimate the difficulties that we are facing. We express also our deep respect because there were a lot of casualties, a lot of victims and we do not forget that. My approach very concretely as a Chairperson-in-Office in front of this situation is that the status quo is not really an option and we have to move to peace step by step, and that means that we will advocate as Swiss Chair-in-Office for strengthening the ceasefire regime, which means above all getting once an incident prevention mechanism which was welcomed by everybody but never implemented and we will advocate also for intensifying the dialogue and that means the leadership first of all of the two presidents. There was an invitation of President Hollande to meet in Paris. We support thoroughly this endeavor, this initiative and that means also that this new meeting between presidents should be a starting point for a new phase which should lead to a structured negotiation process that should lead to a peace agreement. That would be the idea, which is may be easily said than done and we know that but we have to push for it on the basis of the Madrid principles and of the international law. Above all, what we can do is contributing to help for hosting meetings, for instance for providing expertise, for organizing also a financial and political support for the implementation of a possible peace agreement and therefore I would like to say here very clearly that we are open for doing that during the presidency, but the Swiss government will be ready if needed, if wished by all parties to be present after the presidency as well and to give a support if it is needed once more. And support we are also ready to give it for improving the environment for peace with people to people contacts for instance, with regional cooperation. We have a project above all in the environmental issues and in other fields as well. We are ready to continue, may be to develop the Swiss support, the Swiss help, the Swiss contribution for a peace process. Let me just mention that this engagement in promoting peace activities is one of the values and interests and the objectives that are written in the Swiss Constitution. Thank you very much for your attention.