Opening remarks by Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia Ara Aivazian at a joint press conference with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Gabrielius Landsbergis26 April, 2021
I am pleased to welcome my counterpart Gabrielius Landsbergis on an official visit to Armenia.
Remarkably the visit of Mr. Landsbergis to Armenia takes place on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our countries. Lithuania is the first country with which the newly independent Republic of Armenia has established diplomatic relations. Armenia greatly values the relations with Lithuania based on mutual respect, mutual understanding and common values between our peoples.
During today's discussions, which will continue in various dimensions, we comprehensively touched upon the bilateral and multilateral agenda of the Armenian-Lithauanian relations, as well as a wide range of issues on regional and international security and stability.
Armenia is ready to undertake practical steps towards further strengthening and promoting our bilateral cooperation in areas of mutual interest, and I think there is enough potential in that regard. Our Ministries play an important role in this process and in this regard, the holding of regular political consultations between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs is particularly important as a possible mechanism for deepening bilateral multi-sectoral cooperation.
Of course, during our conversation we touched upon the Armenia-EU partnership. Lithuania is one of our important partners in Europe and we appreciate the effective cooperation between our two countries within the framework of the Armenia-EU partnership and Lithuania's commitment to further deepen it. The full implementation of the Armenia-EU Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement, ratified by Lithuania as one of the first countries, provides new opportunities for further deepening of cooperation with the EU and EU member states.
I would like to commend the close cooperation established between our countries within the framework of international organizations, which we intend to further deepen in the future.
During this significant days for the Armenian people, your visit as the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the country which officially recognized the Armenian Genocide is truly remarkable. Armenia and the Armenian people appreciate Lithuania's important contribution to the Genocide Prevention Agenda. I would also like to note that the Deputy Foreign Minister of Lithuania had arrived in Armenia specifically to partake in the events dedicated to the 106th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.
Unfortunately, we should state that in parallel with the efforts of the international community, today we are once again confronting the disaster of extremism, gross violations of human rights, international humanitarian law, human rights and dignity, the extreme manifestation of which was the Azerbaijani aggression against the Armenian people of Artsakh with the direct participation of Turkey unleashed on September 27, 2020, the committed war crimes and atrocities, as well as the resulting humanitarian crisis.
So far, issues requiring urgent addressing in the context of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, such as the immediate repatriation of hostages, including prisoners of war, have not been fully resolved.
Armenia, undoubtedly, stands by our brothers and sisters in Artsakh in addressing the humanitarian catastrophe, but here we also need the support of the international community.
I hope that our international partners will respond to the humanitarian call, which will be a significant contribution to mitigating the consequences of the 44-day war.
To conclude, I would like to emphasize once again the potential of the Armenian-Lithuanian relations and our willingness for its full realization.
Question: The US President Joe Baiden used the term genocide in his message. What significance can it have in terms of the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide? And also, I would like You to refer to the statement of the President of Turkey on Turkey’s readiness to establish relations with Armenia on the basis of good neighborhood and mutual respect.
Ara Aivazian: Each April 24 is a special day. And this April 24 - the first one after the war, had a clear and special international response. This year April 24 was marked by the expression of very strong support of the international community to the Armenian people. As you have noticed, high-ranking delegations have arrived to Armenia, despite the restrictions due to the pandemic, and there have been messages from many of our international partners, including at the highest level. The recognition of the Armenian Genocide is important not only for the truth and historical justice but also for the physical security of the Armenian people.
You are familiar with the Foreign Ministry statement on this occasion but I would like to add that I completely share the idea expressed in President Biden's message that the international community should undertake practical steps to prevent the recurrence of such crimes in the future.
Armenia is at the forefront of promoting the Genocide prevention and condemnation agenda, and in that terms, the message of President Baiden is a huge contribution.
We are familiar with the letter of the President of Turkey, and with the readiness expressed in it, but I would like to stress that we believe do not value words but deeds, which we have clearly stated. There have been similar messages in the past, even a bilateral document was signed, but it did not have a positive follow up. Therefore, I want to reaffirm once again that not words but actions are important for us.
Question: This session of the EAEU Intergovernmental Council will be held on April 29-30. It is possible that Azerbaijan will be attending the session if Armenia does not block its participation. Has Armenia blocked the participation of the adversary country in the intergovernmental session or will Azerbaijan participate anyway? My second question concerns the cultural monuments of Armenia, which fell under the control of Azerbaijan. Satellite images show that Azerbaijan deployed heavy artillery in the courtyard of the 7th-century’s “Vankasar” and launched construction work in the Ghazanchetsots Church. What are the concerns of the Armenian side on this issue, what steps will be undertaken to preserve other cultural monuments?
Ara Aivazian: My answer regarding the first question will be very brief, but clear - there is no consensus to invite such a country to this event with any status, and I will limit myself to that.
As for Your second question, of course, such developments are very disturbing. And we have already witnessed the precedents of the destruction of Armenian places of worship, monuments, as well as official statements to justify them. This issue is under our constant attention, and You have surely noticed that our international partners have firmly criticized any attempt to destroy the Armenian historical and cultural heritage and to change their identity. This issue is included in the agenda of the peace process, as proved in the provisions of the statement of the Co-Chairs issued on December 3, 2020, and on April 13 of this year. We work with specialized structures. We cooperate very closely with other UNESCO structures.
And I would like to note that today it is very important to raise the issue of international community’s awareness on this matter. Our Ministry and system carry out consistent work in that direction. For instance. on April 24, on the initiative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the exhibition entitled "Heritage in danger. Artsakh" has been launched, which was attended by the high-level delegations that arrived in Armenia. Taking the opportunity, I would like to invite our compatriots to this very interesting exhibition, which will run until May 2 in Yerevan Municipality.