YEREVAN (Combined Sources)—“Armenia has always welcomed the recognition of or efforts to recognize the Armenian genocide by other countries,” said Foreign Minister Eduard Nalbandian Friday in response to a question by RFE/RL about Yerevan’s position on the recent introduction of a Genocide bill in the Senate.
“We welcome this also because the issue of the recognition of the Armenian genocide concerns not only our people, it is very important for the entire international community so as to prevent such crimes against humanity from recurring,” Nalbandian added.
Nalbandian, who was speaking at a joint press conference with his Belarus counterpart Syarhey Martynau, said Armenia “will never call into question the fact of the Armenian genocide or the importance of its recognition.”
Earlier this week, both President Serzh Sarkisian’s office and the Armenian Foreign Ministry declined RFE/RL’s requests to react to or comment on the Senate resolution that calls on President Barack Obama to officially describe the Ottoman-era massacres of Armenians as Genocide.
“Armenian Genocide recognition is a matter that concerns not only the Armenian people but all of humanity so that such crimes never happen again,” said Nalbandian, adding that more than 20 countires have officially characterized and recognized the mass killings and deportations of Armenians in the Ottoman Empire Genocide.
Nalbandian brushed aside continued Turkish arguments and announcements that the ratification of the protocols are linked to the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
He added that this position was shared by the states that jointly chair the OSCE Minsk Group, which has been mediating the conflict.
“It means these are not mere statements by Armenia for ‘domestic consumption’…but the position of the international community,” said Nalbandian.
Nalbandian said the Protocols had no preconditions. “Both sides undertook a commitment to ratify the Protocols within reasonable time, taking into account all constitutional procedures.”
On the topic of the Karabakh conflict, Foreign Minister Martynau of Belarus said his country wanted the conflicted to be resolved based on international law and in accordance to agreements reached between the parties.
“We hope we can host the final peace conference in Minsk in the near future, said Martynau.
Martynau was asked to clarify constant and recent weapons transfers to Baku from Belarus—Armenia’s partner in the Collective Security Treaty Organization.
The Belarus foreign minister said that all transfers were executed without breach of UN or CSTO obligations.
“We also would like to maximize military-technical cooperation with Armenia within the CSTO framework,” added Martynau.
Nalbandian also rejected accusations that Yerevan was pressured into signing the protocols and was even asked by journalists is he was embarrassed after the now-infamous three-hour standoff in Zurich on the day of signing ceremony.
“The times when Armenia could be forced to take certain steps are in the past. Armenia makes decisions independently and these decisions are made by its top leadership,” emphasized Nalbandian, reiterating that the rapprochement process with Turkey was initiated by Armenia and the protocols were mutually agreed to with Turkey.
He said the process “enjoys the backing of the whole international community except for a couple of countries.”
“Half an hour after the signing of the protocols, the UN secretary-general called on the two parties to ratify them as soon as possible, honor and implement the agreements; the European Union stated about that, too, as did France and Germany. Russia stated its position on that also very clearly and unequivocally,” said Nalbandian to illustrate the wide international support for the process.