YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–During a press conference Monday–December 26–Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian briefed reporters on the goals and achievemen’s of Armenian foreign policy for the year 2000.
Oskanian noted that Armenian foreign policy has concentrated on complimentarism–political realism–and all-inclusiveness–which were also focused on in previous years.
In the Caucasus Armenia conducted its foreign policy with three main objectives in mind. First–Armenia’sought to assist in a peaceful resolution of the Karabakh conflict. Second–steps were taken to increase cooperation in the region. Third–Armenia’sought to establish friendly ties with its immediate neighbors.
Oskanian stated that policy goals are slowly becoming evident. Attempts at increasing stability in the Caucasus and steps taken to strengthen economic ties with its neighbors have proved productive–but there is more room for improvement.
Unfortunately there is no substantial improvement in relations with Turkey because of the Karabakh conflict and the failure of both sides to come to a reasonable agreement regarding the Armenian Genocide. Relations with Iran and Georgia have been improving continuously. Thus–negotiations between Armenia and Iran regarding the building of a pipeline between the two countries are close to reaching a final outcome. In the upcoming year–trade between the two countries is expected to increase further–with new agreemen’s concluded in the spheres of energy and transportation. Regarding Georgia–Oskanian stressed the Ashotsk-Nikodzminta electrical channel which is to be built in the near future.
Oskanian proudly stressed the fact that military cooperation between Armenia and Russia has reached new levels in the past year. He stated the goal of the Armenian administration is to raise economic cooperation to the same level as political cooperation. Oskanian discussed agreemen’s signed between the two countries aimed at strengthening ties into the 21st century.
Turning to the United States–Oskanian discussed the ongoing efforts at maintaining close ties between Armenia and the US. Oskanian expressed his confidence that the new administration in the US will continue to work with Armenia along the same lines as the previous one. The upholding of Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act–which guarantees financial assistance to Karabakh from the US government–and the creation of an inter-governmental agency to deal with Armenian economic issues are two major accomplishmen’s. The agency stresses cooperation in the military-economic sphere and ensures commitment to humanitarian principles in the region.
Regarding foreign relations with Asia–Oskanian discussed two main accomplishmen’s in the year 2000: the prime minister’s meeting with the Chinese foreign minister and his visit to India. The minister highly regarded the agreemen’s made with the Japanese government ensuring technical assistance to Armenia in the upcoming years. The first meeting of a joint Armenian-Japanese technical committee which will take place in the year 2001–an exhibit honoring the cultures of Caucasian countries–in which Armenia will take part–is scheduled to be held in Tokyo–and the opening of an Armenian embassy in Japan are considered to be foundations for the improvement of Armenian-Japanese relations.
Oskanian then turned to foreign relations with Central and South American countries. As a result of the foreign minister’s visits to Argentina–Brazil and Uruguay–steps were taken towards establishing cooperation agreemen’s between Armenia and the these countries in the political and economic spheres. The Armenian embassy is planning on working closer with these countries in the year 2001 to finalize these agreemen’s.
With regards to the conflict between Palestinians and Israel–Oskanian pledged the continuing support of Armenia towards a peaceful resolution–stressing that the foreign policy is committed to upholding the UN-authorized recognition of the right of Palestinians to self-determination. Armenia’s official position on the fate of the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem is that it should not be separated from the other Christian quarters.
Finally–Oskanian discussed the openings of Armenian embassies in Iraq and the United Arab Emirates–the establishment of diplomatic relations with Libya–and arrangemen’s started with Iraq for the purchase of oil. Oskanian concluded discussion of Armenia’s foreign policy in the Middle East by highlighting the strengthening of relations with its allies Syria and Egypt.