ATHENS—Armenia’s Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian on Wednesday reiterated an earlier pledge by President Serzh Sarkisian that Yerevan will officially scrap the dangerous Turkey-Armenia Protocols by next spring.
Speaking the Greek Foreign Ministry, where he held a meeting with his counterpart Nikos Kotzias, Nalbandian said that Turkey has failed to keep its end of the bargain and has not ratified the documents, placing preconditions that are beneficial to Azerbaijan.
After providing historical context for the ill-advised process of seeking normalization of relations with Turkey, Nalbandian reiterated an assertion made by Sarkisian, who in September told the United Nations General Assembly that Armenia will withdraw from the Protocols, signed in Zurich in 2009, before the spring of 2018.
“Up to now, those documents [the Protocols] have not been ratified, since Turkey came up with groundless preconditions that run counter to the letter and spirit of the Protocols. These documents cannot be held hostage forever and that is why the President of Armenia declared in September from the podium of the UN General Assembly that Armenia will declare the Protocols null and void since they continuously lacked any positive progress towards their implementation and we will enter the spring of 2018 without those Protocols,” said Nalbandian at a press conference following a meeting with Kotzias.
“We shared also with the Greek people some of the most tragic pages of the recent past, we both suffered from the genocide and crimes against humanity, defended shoulder-to-shoulder our right for life and stood by each other in the difficult times. There is no doubt that we are more than just historically allied nations, but rather a true brotherhood,” said Nalbandian before making the announcement about the Protocols.
Calling the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution one of Armenia’s key priorities, Nalbandian expressed Yerevan’s willingness to continue the peace process under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group and led by its co-chairing countries, the United States, Russia and France.
He referred to his meeting last week in Vienna with his Azerbaijani counterpart Elmar Mammadyarov, as well as a meeting in Geneva in October between Sarkisian and his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev as “positive” steps toward continuing the conflict resolution process.
He pointed out, however, that while these meetings, and other before them, have been deemed as “positive” steps, Azerbaijan’s continued provocations, on both military and diplomatic fronts, continue to dampen any progress reached at the negotiation table.
“Azerbaijan pretends as if the agreements reached during the previous Summits are preconditions put forward by the Armenian side. Armenia has not used preconditions, but that does not mean that the reached agreements should not be implemented. The Co-Chairs’ statement at the Ministerial Councils in Hamburg and Vienna proved that the Azerbaijani attempts to reject the implementation of the agreements reached at the Vienna and St. Petersburg Summits are doomed to failure. The pattern of refusal by Azerbaijan to honor prior agreements seriously questions Baku’s credibility as a negotiating partner,” said Nalbandian.
“The Co-Chairs reiterated their commitment to mediating activities to promote compromises on the working proposals submitted to the parties. These proposals are well known and are reflected in the five statements of the presidents of the Co-Chair countries issued since 2009. The core of these proposals offers a package deal that includes the future determination of the final legal status of Nagorno-Karabakh through a legally binding expression of will of the population of Nagorno-Karabakh,” explained Nalbandian, adding that Baku’s rejection of the proposals hindered the peace process.
“If Baku abides to the calls of the Co-Chairs to strictly respect the ceasefire, implements previously reached agreements, reiterates its adherence to the principles of the conflict resolution proposed by the Co-Chairs and constructively engages in the negotiations that will pave the way to move the peace process forward and change the status-quo,” added Nalbandian.
Armenia’s continued and accelerating relations with the European Union, of which Greece is a member, was also brought up by Nalbandian, who on November 24 signed the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement (CEPA) with the EU in Brussels.
“The signing of CEPA is not a stand-alone example of the Armenia-EU partnership. In the past two years we have been able to deliver in different fields of mutual cooperation, namely joining COSME, ‘Creative Europe,’ HORIZON 2020 programs, initialing the Agreement on Common Aviation Area and signing the Protocol on High-level Mutual Understanding on extending the Trans-European Transport (TEN-T) network to the Republic of Armenia, to name but a few. We are looking forward to the new endeavors, attaching particular importance among others to the launch of visa liberalization dialogue. We anticipate further support of our Greek partners to the Armenia-EU cooperation,” added Nalbandian.