Foreign Minister’s answers to the questions of the Members of Parliament of Armenia during the Q&A session with the Government26 March, 2020
Mikayel Zolyan: My question is about the international fight against the novel Coronavirus. But before, on behalf of my colleagues from the Foreign Relations Committee, I would like to express my gratitude to diplomats, who have worked in an emergency mode these days, so that our citizens in foreign countries could return home. Once again I thank the healthcare professionals and others, without forgetting our diplomats.
I understand that the pandemic is worldwide, including in the most developed countries. Many countries appeared in a worse situation than ours. However, what is being done to unite the efforts of states, especially considering that we are members of a number of integration, security organizations? And there are states, which have already overcome the peak of the Coronavirus, for example, China, which share their experience with other countries and provide assistance. What are the developments in this regard, and do we have an objective assessment of the situation? If there are no expectations, we should know and realize that we should rely on ourselves.
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: Thank you for the question, Mr Zolyan. Indeed, your question is raised at a time of rather dynamic developments. In the first stage, the work of Foreign Ministry of Armenia was almost entirely operational: the emerging problems required immediate solutions, first of all concerning our citizens, and the main resources were directed to solving those very issues.
In the second stage, we had to coordinate what we need in terms of the fight against the Coronavirus. Currently we are in a stage that we try to address it in a more systematic way considering which countries, sectors and organizations to work with.
There is a way of solving each issue, and we are constantly working with the Ministry of Health on these issues, which, in its turn, works with its partners from different countries, organizations or private companies in order to meet the immediate requirements.
It is very important for us to find out how we can do this more systematically. Now we are at that phase.
And the third, of course, is the actual foreign policy issues, which are actually quite chaotic today, because the primary goal for everyone is the fight against coronavirus inside their own country. This applies to everyone, including us.
We create our foreign policy within these three dimensions. As I said, the main part of our resources was directed to the operational work for our citizens; two others are in a new stage.
Mikayel Zolyan: Thank you. I would also like Thank you, and I would also like to call on you if you need the opportunities of parliamentary diplomacy, please reach us, if we can be of any use, we will take part. Our colleagues carry out a number of activities and offer support and assistance. And probably we can use this pause in international relations and in the world for the strategic planning, self-reflection and analysis.
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan. First of all, I am very grateful for your words to our diplomats. As for your question: it refers to the third stage of our current work. In fact, there are many ideas, it is very important to assess the developments and, how the world responds to it, and how we position ourselves. This is the third stage, where our cooperation and dialogue have a significant role. Thank You.
Ani Samsonyan: Dear Government, apparently our problems concern not only the citizens of Armenia working in Armenia, but also with the citizens of Armenia working abroad, especially in the Russian Federation. As this fact is of great concern for the people who could not reach the Russian Federation and now encounter a number of issues in this regard, my question is; taking into account the fact that the borders of Russian Federation are closed since March 16, are there any negotiations with Russian Federation on opening the borders of Russia for that citizens of Armenia. Thank You.
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: Thank You, Mrs Samsonyan. At that point we all have this emergency in every place. As of today, each country solves the issues based on their own assessments, just as we provide framework solutions to various issues. In this context we have the following situation: no foreign citizen can enter the territory of Russian Federation. Yesterday and today the decisions were made on transit changes. It is difficult to say how the developments will unfold but, for this moment, no citizen of Armenia can travel to Russian Federation. This is the current situation which is a result of the state of emergency - an extraordinary situation which does not fit with normal life. We are dealing with such a situation today. What will happen tomorrow, next week, next month, I can't say yet. We have this now, and we urge our citizens, as we have done many times, to be careful, cautious and prudent because the situations we face are extraordinary and can cause many issues for our citizens. We are always supportive and attempt to find solutions to problems, but we should take into account possible complications and properly evaluate the situation.
Ani Samsonyan: Thank you for the answer. Of course, I understand that in it is the sovereign right of the country to decide how to prevent the pandemic in this situation. But I raise this question within the logic that we are in the common EAEU economic zone, and of course this kind of question should be discussed and resolved easier within this zone, than in case of the states out of the common economic zone. For this reason, I am interested if the steps are being taken towards resolving the uncertainty, when people cannot cross the border and go to their work, as this is also a social problem.
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: Deputy Prime Minister Mher Grigoryan already noted that a video-discussion has been held at the level of EAEU member states’ Deputy Prime Ministers. These works will continue within the EAEU framework and other platforms as well: we have the CIS platform. As for the EAEU framework, given the rapidly developing and new situation, the discussions are also new. Thank you for the question and certainly, I am sure that this will be an agenda issue for all member states. Thank you.