The joint press conference of Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, the Foreign Minister of Armenia and Michaëlle Jean, the Secretary General of the International Organization of La Francophonie11 September, 2018
First, I would like to apologise for arriving with a little delay, which also shows how rich and expansive the agenda we are discussing with the Secretary-General is. I would like to use this opportunity and once again greet and welcome in your presence the Secretary-General of the International Organization of La Francophonie, Madam Michaëlle Jean, our close friend who indeed has had a significant input in developing and promoting the agenda of our organization.
Now, I have quite a challenge ahead as I have a substantial amount of points to cover, to share with you, but I am also constrained by time limits, and will, thus, do my best to convey to you as laconically as possible the agenda on which we are currently working within the frameworks of the International Organization of la Francophonie.
Madam Michaëlle Jean’s visit comes about one month before the 17th Summit of OIF, which, naturally, is among the central topics of our discussion. We also discuss those priorities, those primary issues that are present on the agenda of La Francophonie and all OIF member-states, and that indeed have an immense potential to promote the role of La Francophonie, its influence and value for us, the OIF member-states. La Francophonie has had, in that regard, a significant role for our country as a key lever for linguistic plurality, multilingualism and promotion of French language. Those institutions, those various platforms that help us to develop linguistic plurality in our society, since, as you know, it is of great importance for small countries and nations to learn as many languages as possible, in this context, La Francophonie is indeed a crucial platform for us.
But more importantly, the language is also a tool to advance our common values and goals, as well as our cooperation since La Francophonie has a quite extensive membership. It includes countries from the African continent, South and Southeast Asia, Latin America, Caribbean region, North America and, naturally, Europe. These countries work together and use this cooperation to promote our common values, i.e. diversity, solidarity, values of humanism, human rights and democracy.
Our priorities for the 17th Summit are constructed around the promotion of these values. We aim to have as practical results as possible during the Summit, as well as during our two-year presidency from 2018 to 2020.
I am confident that the Summit will be a big and happy event for Armenia. We try our best to showcase ourselves and our culture as well as to share our values with our partners and friends within the framework of La Francophonie.
Of course, the summit will have an extremely important substantive part. We are already finalizing negotiations with our other partners in the OIF headquarters in Paris. We aim to reflect the topic of “Living Together” in the Yerevan document that will guide us in terms of reflecting and expressing our values.
Yerevan declaration will be among the most important documents. Negotiations around a number of key resolutions that will be adopted are already in their final stage. I would like to specifically emphasize the resolution on equality between men and women.
We also pay great attention to the youth and the future, which is reflected both in the goals included in the text, as well as our activities. Indeed, we attach great importance and we wish for practical results regarding the issues of entrepreneurship and economic cooperation within the framework of La Francophonie, emphasizing the issue of innovation. In that regard, we are organizing a special forum related to innovations and economic cooperation - an Economic forum that will be held in TUMO center, which is also rather symbolic, since it is a center for innovations. As an outcome, we aim to create a network of Francophone Ministers responsible for the IT sphere.
The happy part is related to the Village of La Francophonie, which will operate from October 7 to 12 on the Liberty Square of Yerevan. We are going to have around 40 pavilions, where member-states, and naturally we too, as well as the OIF Secretariat will have pavilions to present our culture, art and craft.
We also promise a rather interesting, fine and fun event - the concert at the Republic Square, where we will show our talent, our art and we will have the honour to host various stars from francophone world.
I could have kept on speaking much longer. If I have forgotten to mention about something, I am sure that Madam Secretary General will fill the gap. I would like to once again reiterate that this is a great honour and responsibility for Armenia. We are a new member of La Francophonie, but we are a confident and proud member. And through our membership and our activities, we seek to use this multilateral cooperation platform, either for us or working together with our partners, to promote those common values that unify the member-states within the framework of La Francophonie.
I would stop here and gladly pass the floor to you, Mme Jean.
Indeed, you have reminded me of an important issue - the role of the civil society, which is quite significant. And Your presence and participation in tomorrow’s event, which is related to civil society is also of great importance. I am also confident, that the journalists will be interested to learn that along with the Summit, on the same days, the 47th conference of francophone media representatives will be held as well.
Public Radio: Mr. Minister, with your permission, I have two questions that are not related to the topic. Is a meeting between Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan envisaged in the near future? Around what document will the talks be held? And the second question: I would like to ask you to elaborate a little bit on the statement about providing humanitarian assistance to Syria. Will this not make the Republic of Armenia a target for terrorists?
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: Thank you for your questions. With regard to my meeting with the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, I would ask for patience, in order for us, since I am trying to be very discreet, so that we could make the statements in a coordinated manner. We will announce about that in a coordinated manner, in order to abide by the rules and preserve the respect for each other.
I will add, however, that we have already spoken about it before, that we are engaged in negotiation process, that we have expressed our commitment to that process and peaceful negotiations. As you know, a meeting has already taken place in Brussels in July, and there is an agreement to continue this process, to organize next meeting that will take place very soon. As I have mentioned, we will announce about it in a coordinated manner.
Concerning your second question: you are well aware that the situation in Syria is of great importance for Armenia, not merely because it is related to regional security and stability, but also because we are deeply concerned about the security of our compatriots. You know, that since 2011 Armenia has already hosted our compatriots here. Besides the Embassy of Armenia in Damascus, we also have a Consulate General in Aleppo, which works in a daily regime and does its best for the security of our compatriots. In this sense, it is not the first time that Republic of Armenia provides humanitarian assistance to our compatriots and the population of Syria.
The issue of our compatriots continues to remain one of the most important issues for us, and it is within this logic that we act and work with our partners. You are aware, that in this issue the Russian Federation has been helpful in the past as well, so that we were physically able to deliver the humanitarian aid there. In this case also we will work together to be able to have our contribution on the ground, strictly in the security and humanitarian context. For us these are primarily humanitarian activities.