YEREVAN (Combined Sources)–Foreign Minister Vartan Oskanian during a press conference Thursday said he believes that U.S. Recognition of the Armenian Genocide Resolution is inevitable.
Commenting on the resolution’s recent adoption by the Congressional Committee on Foreign Affairs as well as the firestorm of opposition by the Bush administration and Turkish government, Oskanian said Armenia has welcomed the adoption of the House Resolution 106 by the Foreign Affairs Committee of the US House of Representatives, describing the measure as an important step on the way of restoration of historical justice.
Oskanian said he believes that the US House of Representatives will sooner or later have to officially acknowledge the Armenian Genocide.
"We expect that the measure will be brought to a vote at the full House and will be adopted," said Oskanian. "They say it’s not the proper time now. However, I’m confident that recognition is inevitable. The US Congress will recognize the Armenian Genocide."
Oskanian said there is, however, one positive development in today’s situation: even pro-Turkish Congressmen and public figures do not deny the fact of the Armenian Genocide. "The question is considered primarily from the perspective of national security," the minister noted, adding, "Turkey has serious reasons to worry."
Commenting on the ongoing Nagorno-Karabakh peace process Oskanian said the OSCE Minsk Group will pay another visit to Armenia on Saturday.
The French, Russian and American cochairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group visited Yerevan Tuesday and are currently in Baku. Before leaving the region they will return to Armenia to present the results of their meetings with Azerbaijani leadership, Oskanian said.
Oskanian said that little time is left before the presidential elections in Armenia and Azerbaijan and the two presidents will not be able to have face-to-face meetings. The co-chairs of the OSCE have therefore been increasing their mediation efforts, he said.
Oskanian said the peace brokers will try to minimize the contentions held by both sides in order to achieve positive results before the presidential election.
"There are few sticking points, but there are also a great deal of issues which the sides have agreed upon," Oskanian said. "We hope to fix what has been achieved so far and add to it further by what has been agreed upon by the sides," he said.
In regards to the ongoing destruction of Armenian Historic sites, Oskanian said UNESCO observers might visit Nakhijevan in the near future to investigate the destruction.
Oskanian discussed the issue in Paris during the 34th session of the UNESCO Conference earlier this month. He confirmed that the visit will take place if Azerbaijan does not create new obstacles to its realization.
The delegation cannot enter Nakhijevan without Azerbaijan’s agreement. Armenia cannot do more than demand the delegation to arrive as a member country of the Council of Europe. Unfortunately Azerbaijan tries to prevent these visits, Oskanian told a press conference Wednesday. There are no obstacles to UNESCO’s visit from the Armenian side, he added.
To satisfy both parties UNESCO asked for permission to monitor the monumen’s on the territory of Armenia and visit Nagorno-Karabakh as well. Armenia agreed and went so far as to urge the delegation to come to Armenia.
On August 29 Azerbaijan prevented the visit of the PACE delegation headed by British Member of Parliament Edward O’Hara to Nakhijevan, where they destroyed the Armenian cemetery in 2006 and built a firing range in its place.
When asked about the sudden end to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s official visit to Armenia, Oskanian reiterated that it was a success despite the confusion caused by its sudden end.
Ahmadinejad, who arrived in Yerevan on Monday, unexpectedly flew back to Tehran the next morning after canceling planned visits to the genocide memorial in the Armenian capital and the National Assembly. Armenian officials said he told President Robert Kocharian that needs to return home earlier than expected for "urgent reasons" which they refused to specify.
"Relations between the two countries are so friendly that I don’t think such protocol issues are a problem," Oskanian told journalists. "What Mr. Ahmadinejad and the Iranian side said is correct and what we said is correct. We just shouldn’t create a problem."
Speaking at a joint news conference on Monday, Ahmadinejad and Kocharian said they agreed to give new impetus to bilateral economic ties centering on the energy sector. Kocharian said the two sides reaffirmed their strong interest in the construction of a large oil refinery in southeastern Armenia as well as an Armenian-Iranian railway.
They also plan to start work next year on a major hydroelectric plant on the Arax River marking the Armenian-Iranian border. In addition, Armenia has pledged to complete by the end of 2008 the ongoing construction of the second and final Armenian section of a natural gas pipeline from Iran.
The United States, which accuses Iran of sponsoring international terrorism and seeking to develop nuclear weapons, reaffirmed on Tuesday its opposition to the Armenian-Iranian economic projects. "We have counseled the Armenia’s, as we have counseled others who have entertained entering into these sort of oil and gas agreemen’s with Iran against doing so," a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, Sean McCormack, said. "We don’t think the time is right to even be entertaining the idea of concluding these kinds of agreemen’s."
McCormack warned that Yerevan should be careful not to breach U.S. and international sanctions imposed on the Islamic Republic. "If there are any applicable laws that are triggered by any actions taken by any entities, we will take a look at the agreemen’s with respect to U.S. law," he told a daily news briefing in Washington.
Incidentally, Prime Minister Serzh Sarkisian was also in Washington on Tuesday, holding talks with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at the end of his week-long visit to the U.S. Sarkisian met U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Robert Gates late last week.
Speaking at his news conference, Oskanian confirmed that his talks in New York earlier this month with Turkish Foreign Minister Ali Babacan were largely fruitless. "There is no major change in Turkey’s policy towards Armenia at the moment," he said. "Turkey remains interested only in processes, while we want results. We have no common ground there yet."
Turkey makes normalization of its relations with Armenia conditional on a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and an end to the Armenian campaign for international recognition of the 1915 genocide. Ankara seems even more unlikely to drop these preconditions now that the U.S. Congress is considering adopting a landmark resolution that describes the slaughter of 1.5 million Armenia’s by Ottoman Turkey as genocide.
U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza told RFE/RL on Wednesday that he will visit Turkey on Friday to again "explore the possibility" of improving Turkish-Armenian relations.