WASHINGTON–Armenian Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian–who arrived in Washington Wednesday on a brief working visit–spoke Thursday at a Heritage Foundation Luncheon. Oskanian was introduced by Vice President of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis International Studies Center–Kim Holmes.
The Foreign Minister began his remarks by introducing the current priorities of the Armenian government which consist of strengthening of economy and improving the living standards of the population. Oskanian noted that intensive economic development must be balanced by security issues which have always been critical for Armenia–and the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Oskanian gave brief accounts on Armenia’s relations with each of its neighbors. Speaking about possible improvement of Turkish-Armenian relations–he noted that Turkey’s consistent unwillingness to regard relations between the two countries separate from the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remains a major obstacle in developing closer ties. Describing Armenia’s relations with Iran as "purely economic," Oskanian praised Iran’s balanced and unbiased approach to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
The Foreign Minister warned against the tendency of setting Russia against the US–saying that the times of the cold war mentality should have been gone by now–and Armenia considers democratic Russia as reliable a partner as the US.
During his remarks and the question-and-answer session thereafter–Oskanian explained recent adjustmen’s in Armenia’s position on the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict
Also on Thursday–Foreign Minister Oskanian met with Rep. Sonny Callahan. Resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict–US assistance to Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh and new potential in Armenia’s economic performance were discussed. The sides stressed the necessity of direct negotiations between the parties to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Next–Foreign Minister Oskanian met with members of the American Jewish Public Affairs Committee. In addition to issues related to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution and Armenia’s position in the region–further development of Armenian-Israeli bilateral relations–as well as the relationship between Armenian-American and Jewish-American communities were discussed.
Later in the afternoon–at the Armenian Embassy–Foreign Minister Oskanian had a meeting with members and guests of the Council on Foreign Relations. Oskanian introduced the priorities of Armenia’s foreign policy–prospects for peace and regional cooperation and economic development.