You cannot create an atmosphere of trust when hundreds of families in Armenia are waiting for their sons and daughters to return
President Armen Sarkissian took part in the global online meeting entitled “Fostering Shared Humanity” of the authoritative Horasis International Analytical Centre. Horace is an independent international think tank that works with governments and international companies, as well as decision-makers in various fields. Leaders of different countries, representatives of governments, international organizations, large companies, and reputable experts attended the online meeting.
The President of Armenia delivered a keynote speech, in particular, addressing the issue of the Armenian prisoners of war and civilians detained by Azerbaijan. "Azerbaijan still holds hundreds of Armenian prisoners of war after the ceasefire. The Armenian side returned all the prisoners of war to Azerbaijan, but Azerbaijan did not do that," said President Sarkissian, "To look to the future after the war, one should think about creating an atmosphere of stability and trust with the neighbours. But you cannot build trust when hundreds of families in Armenia are waiting for their sons and daughters to return."
In the context of the discussion title, noting that humanity is a necessity, President Sarkissian said that at the moment, we expect such behaviour from neighbouring Azerbaijan.
Continuing the theme of humanity, the President of Armenia said that we must understand that this world has dramatically changed. "Once we understand, we have to think about how to live in this world. We need to change our behaviour, after which we will be able to be more optimistic and say that we will live successfully in this changing world," said the President of the Republic, "In my words, by my example, I must show that there is light at the end of this dark tunnel, and that light is that you must have a clear idea, a clear mission, and know what to do: have a strategy, work hard, and be disciplined. In this case, of course, there will be optimism, and you will build a strong Armenia again."
Within the framework of humanity, President Sarkissian spoke about love. "It is the component without which we cannot rebuild Armenia, and ourselves, rediscover the hope that we will become a strong country again. We must love our people and our children. For that, we must work hard, be disciplined, and understand the strategy and mission of rebuilding the country. In the same way, thinking about our children’s future, we must take care of nature in Armenia and elsewhere. Any tree planted in Armenia will contribute to the climate in the whole world. Therefore, we must do it for Armenia and the whole world. The "green movement," aimed at preserving nature and heritage, has gained momentum in Armenia. We need to talk about this with the new generation and share our experience." The President noted that he would be sorry if, years later, he had to say that the world is going through a deep crisis, because years ago we were not smart enough to make the right decisions, to preserve and protect nature, to transform ourselves to be in harmony with nature.
Answering the moderator's question on how difficult it is for a country or people to love their neighbour if there is a war, President Sarkissian particularly said, "Love has different manifestations. When I talk about love, I first mean the love of an individual towards family, friends, country, and nature. Love is when you love to be human, to live with human consciousness, and you have a level of morality. It helps in dealing with neighbours.
To love does not mean that if you have a tragic history, such as the Armenian one in the case of Turkey, you can immediately start normalizing relations tomorrow. But that's the way to go about it today. Armenians and Turks cannot try to live together for 100 or 200 years without realizing that they should at least respect each other's rights. Decide whether respect for each other can be called love. But it is possible to respect each other's rights.
If Azerbaijan returns prisoners of war to Armenia today, I assure you, some Armenians will appreciate it somehow, although with difficulty."