Interviews and press conferences
President Sargsyan and Chancellor Merkel recapped the results of the negotiations at the joint press conference
President Serzh Sargsyan’s remarks at the joint press conference with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel
Ladies and Gentlemen:
It’s a great honor for me to once again conduct an offical visit to the friendly Germany which is Armenia’s valuable friend at the European and international platforms, reliable partner, and a steadfast supporter. Thank you, Madam Chancellor, for the invitation and warm welcome. The agenda of the Armenian-German relations is pretty extensive. It comprises multifaceted bilateral relations, cooperation in the Armenia-European Union format, in the Armenia-NATO and peacekeeping missions format.
Naturally, under the conditions created by the recent large-scale aggression of Azerbaijan against Nagorno Karabakh, part of our discussions has been dedicated to that topic.
I’ve informed Chancellor Merkel in detail about the developments of last few days. Armenia highly values assistance of the German Chairmanship at the OSCE to the NK peace process conducted under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group. At the beginning of this year, Germany reiterated the proposal of the OSCE Minsk Group on the creation of the mechanisms for the investigation of the ceasefire violations. Armenia has always spoken in favor of such step as well as to the proposal to withdraw snipers from the line of contact as a confidence building or stability measure. However, these proposals have never been called to life. Azerbaijan bluntly rejects all confidence building measures and is pursuing other goals.
These goals were unambiguously revealed on the night of April 1-2. Ignoring more than twenty-year long efforts of the international community aimed at the establishment of peace, Azerbaijan launched large-scale military operations along the entire Karabakh-Azerbaijan line of contact. In fact, it was an unprecedented since the ceasefire offensive, aimed against the peaceful population. Thus, Azerbaijan has once again turned our region into a hotbed which threatens security in Europe.
The people of Karabakh want no war; they want a simple and understandable thing which all colonized people have always fought for: They want to master their own destiny and be free in creating their own future. They want their children to have a peaceful and happy childhood; they want to leave in a democratic state. They have no other aspirations.
It’s been almost thirty years – since 1988, that the people of Karabakh are compelled to fight for their freedom every day, have to prove every day that they have similar rights with other nations. And they have managed to make right steps under the imposed war, illegal blockade and endless violations of the fragile ceasefire. From the international community they expect just one thing: to recognize their rights.
I spoke about this with Madam Chancellor who is well aware of the details of the modern history of that struggling nation.
Taking this opportunity, I would like to once again thank the Government of Germany and personally Madam Chancellor for the continuous support to the Armenia-EU dialogue. It is vital for us, for the nation which is a bearer and a follower of the European values.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
Germany is Armenia’s second and among the EU member states the first trade partner. In few days, in Yerevan there will take place the inauguration of the Office of Germany’s Economic Union which testifies to the promising economic potential. I’ve told Mrs. Merkel that we are ready to host German businessmen in Armenia.
Taking this opportunity, I would also like to mention assistance provided by the Government of Germany to Armenia. The most recent example of it is the continuous assistance provided by the German Government to the process of constitutional changes initiated in Armenia with the implementation of international experience.
In conclusion, I would like to state that the Armenian side will do its best to further strengthen our friendly relations for the benefit of our two nations. I also hope that my next meeting with the leadership of Germany will take place in Yerevan.
Remarks of the German Chancellor Angela Markel at the joint press conference with President Serzh Sargsyan
Ladies and Gentlemen:
I cordially greet today in Berlin, in Germany, the President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan.
We reached agreement on this meeting long ago. We’ve spoken about the future development of our bilateral relations, and discussed the general situation.
We’ve met on many occasions but today I cordially greet you in Germany.
We are certainly concerned with the current situation in the region. With this regard, we have discussed the situation around Nagorno Karabakh. The President offered me his points of view.
At this time, Germany is presiding over at the OSCE and as the Chairman-in-Office would like to play a constructive role; Federal Minister of Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier is eager to bring his assistance to the efforts of the Minsk Group which is entitled with the responsibility to resolve this conflict.
Mr. Kasprzyk is the Special Representative who is currently responsible for it and is working toward the de-escalation and for bringing the sides immediately to a ceasefire, as well as for re-starting in the shortest possible time the comprehensive process of negotiations. Overall, in recent years we’ve seen a negligible progress here.
I believe it is very important for all conflicts to be resolved; it is especially important in case of Armenia, related to her geopolitical location. Certainly, it is easier to resolve conflicts through the good and intensive relations with neighbors. Germany wants to bring its constructive assistance to the resolution of conflicts.
I also know that the problem has been persisting for 23 years, and it is not easy to solve it through just one visit.
Naturally, we’ve also discussed the economic cooperation, as well as international issues. The President noted that the agreement reached on the Iran nuclear program was an important step from Armenia’s viewpoint.
I underscored that from the viewpoint of the European Union, we respect Armenia’s decision to join the Eurasian Economic Union. We don’t want to be guided by “either or” principle but we want Armenia to have good relations with the EU; at the same time, the EU respects Armenia’s decision to join the EEU.
Since it stems from our own interests, Germany is actively assisting Armenia in the process of political reforms, with the assistance of the Venice Commission. I believe this is a good prerequisite with regard to making political and economic processes more transparent; it’s a very successful step.
Of course, we’ have already discussed relations with Turkey, and whether it is possible in this situation to re-establish relations existing years ago. I agree that against the background of the military clashes between Armenia and Azerbaijan this is not a favorable time for that.
We want Armenia to move forward in her development; we want Armenia to be a good partner for Germany, and with this regard, Mr. President, I wish you every success on our joint road. Germany will do the utmost to assist you along the way.
President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the joint conference responded to the questions from the representatives of mass media
Maya Khatchatrian, Armenian Public TV: Madam Chancellor, reputable international analytical institutions, including the American Stratford, were predicting long ago that with the plunge of the oil prices and worsening of the social situation in Azerbaijan, Ilham Aliev would unleash a war to divert the attention of his population. Oil prices did plunge. Moreover, days ago it’s been disclosed that the Aliev clan has been keeping astronomical sums in the Panama offshore companies. The people of Azerbaijan must have been diverted from this information too. Do you share the opinion of the analytical centers that the aggression unleashed by Azerbaijan against Nagorno Karabakh was simply designed to divert the attention of the people of Azerbaijan from its own most serious problems?
Angela Merkel: No, I cannot say anything with this regard. I am not an analytic but a politician. First, when problems of this kind arise, it is necessary to assist the process of finding solutions. Toward that end, it is naturally necessary to analyze the situation, and in my opinion this is exactly what Germany should do. And these steps should be implemented. For that very purpose the OSCE Co-Chairs have called a meeting, the Co-Chairs have assumed certain responsibility, for that very reason the German Foreign Minister has undertaken certain steps. We believe that works carried out by the Minks Group Co-Chairs, proposals, which they have developed, constitute a reasonable foundation. Now it is necessary to re-establish as soon as possible former stability. As it’s been noted, we are talking about a conflict which has not been resolved for a very long time; however the recent events show the expediency of finding a speedy solution.
Arnd Henze, ARD TV: Madam Chancellor, you’ve already mentioned Turkey. In coming weeks, the Bundestag will discuss a resolution which will state unequivocally that Genocide was perpetrated against Armenians. The Turkish response is quite predictable. Are you ready for it? And my brief question to the President of Armenia: How would you assess the EU-Turkey close relations against the background of the refugee crisis? Thank you.
Angela Merkel: You are right. The Bundestag will discuss such a resolution, and the process will be followed by the Turkish side. At this moment, I cannot add anything else.
Serzh Sargsyan: It’s very difficult for me to assess actions of the European Union, and I am not in a position to do it. The only thing I can say is that crises like this one pose a huge problem for us too, because in Syria and in the Middle East in general there were great Armenian communities. As a result of this conflict, Armenia has already accepted over twenty thousand refugees, because they are ethnic Armenians, and they are our brothers and sisters. However for a country with the population of three millions, it is difficult to address the social problems of twenty thousand people, and with this regard I would certainly like to thank Madam Chancellor for the assistance provided by the Government of Germany to Armenia.
Zohrab Haroyan, Armenia TV: Madam Chancellor, the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group have proposed to solve that NK problem based on the three principles of international law: the right of people for self-determination, no use or threat to use force, and territorial integrity. Do you, as the leader of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office state, agree that the issue must be solved based on these three principles, including the right for self-determination?
Angela Merkel: I believe, we would achieve serious results if we developed these principles. Although we have worked on those principles for a long time, opinions still differ. Everything should be done to eliminate these differences. However at this point I believe that with regard to Nagorno Karabakh these principles shouldn’t be changed, but we should rather undertake steps to prevent bloodshed and loss of human lives. Urgent efforts are being made to insure durable ceasefire since the longer military actions go on, the more difficult it is to achieve a political solution.
Thomas Lannig, German Information Agency: My first question is for the President of Armenia. Mr. President, on one side Russia is a military protective force for your country, on the other hand, Russia is the greatest and most important weapon supplier for Azerbaijan. How would you assist Russia’ role in this conflict?
Madam Chancellor: You witnessed how the President of Armenia used this forum to present his view on the escalation of the conflict. Do you believe that meetings with you and President Gauck may create a false impression that Germany is regarded as a party to the conflict, or you are planning a similar visit for Azerbaijan?
Angela Merkel: We are planning, the agreement has already been reached, and in June the President of Azerbaijan will conduct a visit, and we will discuss the situation from their point of view. I meet with Aliev regularly. We are making efforts to listen to both sides.
Serzh Sargsyan: Russia is our strategic partner indeed and we are in the same security structure – CSTO, and it is naturally painful for us when Russia sells arms to Azerbaijan. But as you understand our abilities to influence the process are limited. I can tell you one thing: yes, today Azerbaijan probably has more contemporary weaponry and military actions of these three days have shown that this weaponry is being employed. But power is not conditioned by modern weapons, or rather not entirely conditioned by it. Power is not even in the number of tanks; power is in the faith which the people of Nagorno Karabakh and the Armenian nation in general have – to defend our Fatherland no matter what, with all possible means. Yes, we are fighting mostly with the arms made in 1980s, but this three day conflict revealed what’s the mode of fighting of each party, and what losses the Azeris have suffered and what losses we have suffered; how we regard our losses, how our society regards our losses, because we inform our society every minute on the losses we are suffering, how many killed and wounded, how many units of equipment have been lost. Now try to find similar information in Azerbaijan, no way. War is a vicious thing, nothing new here, but on the other hand this three-day war revealed that it is easier to fight for free societies than in other societies, because support of the people means everything, that’s real power.