Opening remarks by Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan at the annual conference of the MFA apparatus and heads of diplomatic service abroad27 August, 2019
I cordially welcome all the participants of the conference, your presence here is very important and I look forward to having an active and substantive discussion on the agenda of our conference. But first, I would like to honour the memory of those who should have been here but who are not with us today due to the twist of fate. I would ask for a minute of silence to pay tribute to our recently deceased Ambassadors Arman Kirakossian and Garnik Badalyan.
Holding the annual conference of the central apparatus of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and heads of diplomatic and consular missions of Armenia in Yerevan has become a tradition. However, this conference is the first since Armenia’s Velvet Revolution of 2018, therefore it aims to clarify the priorities of the Armenian diplomacy after the changes and outline the most effective ways of addressing those priorities in accordance with the program of the Government of the Republic of Armenia. It is also imperative to analyze the fundamental challenges and threats to our state's national security, to discuss current geopolitical and regional processes that may have a direct impact on the course of Armenia's foreign policy, as well as to anticipate undesirable developments and, if possible, elaborate steps to neutralize them.
Additionally, I would like to emphasize that this time the format of discussions has changed, moreover the vision of Armenia’s diplomatic service is presented and three fundamental foreign policy principles are defined. Those will serve as a basis and guideline for our diplomatic activity.
The conference is entitled “Values in action: Armenia’s interests in a changing world”. What do we mean under those values?
First, the Armenian people in the course of its centuries-old history, have created civilizational values, at the core of which are the creativity of the human being, his spiritual development, continuous aspiration to harmonize the national and the universal. As the first nation who adopted Christianity, the Armenian people have continued to pursue and carry those universal values through their national institutions. From this context also derives our global responsibility and mission to protect civilizations and to retake Armenia’s historical and natural role of bridging civilizations.
Second is the rich historical and cultural heritage that the Armenian people have created in different parts of the world during the history and which must be converted into valuable diplomatic assets both on bilateral and multilateral levels.
Third are the values of the Velvet Revolution in Armenia, which have clearly identified that we can be proud of both our historical and modern values. The Velvet Revolution triumphed amid the recent pessimism and cultural relativism argumentations regarding democracy and human rights. Armenia and the Armenian people have shown that human values, based on human dignity, are beyond any geopolitical context. The Armenian people have chosen the real democratic system not by the influence of external powers or due to some expectations from them, but because those human values are genuine values and we are genuine people, who can not only consume but also produce and create values. The non-violent, Velvet revolution in Armenia gives us self-confidence in our powers, in the unity of our people, in tolerance, in liberalism and inability to protect justice.
The establishment of democracy as a result of the Velvet Revolution is not merely the most important value, but also an issue of security and development, which allows us to have free and creative individual, society, that is able to have solidarity and consensus, solid state system, an effective mechanism of decision making, for strengthening Armenia’s positions in international platforms.
In conclusion, we can state that:
- the above-mentioned values are the exclusive advantage of the Republic of Armenia for communicating with the world and creating long-lasting and stable relations on the ground of strong values;
-They reflect the universal interconnectedness, as well as our historic and contemporary connections with different nations in the world, the targeted and consistent development and result-oriented use of which should ensure a favourable environment for productive diplomacy of Armenia.
I must especially emphasize that during today’s conference we enshrine three fundamental foreign policy principles, that will ensure the long-lasting and continuous course of our diplomacy.
At the heart of this principle is Armenia-centered foreign policy, the protection of Armenia’s national interests, the protection of all citizens of Armenia, regardless of ethnicity or religion. The establishment of the principle of sovereignty is a fundamental condition for the implementation of independent foreign policy. And exactly from this point of view, Armenia’s diplomatic activity should consider the questions. For the Armenian diplomacy, this core principle becomes more important in the context of the current global uncertainty in world order when the primary challenges of security and development can be solved based only on sovereign and independent decisions.
This is both a principle and a tool. At first glance, this seemingly ambitious principle not only reflects Armenia’s role as the centre of Armenians and axis of actions but also emphasizes the need for the Armenian diplomacy to view Armenia, Artsakh and the Armenian diaspora as a unified entity, with its unified national agenda. We are confident, creating an environment for mutual practical cooperation between Armenia and the Armenian Diaspora can be conducive for the effective implementation of Armenia’s foreign policy.
The principle of PanArmenianism presupposes the protection, preservation, development of our national identity, at the individual level, at the level of national structures and the country, aimed at identifying and pursuing national issues, preserving Armenian heritage, unity and solidarity. This principle is enshrined in our foreign policy for the first time and it will serve as the global umbrella of our diplomacy that naturally includes the protection of national interests. The implementation of the principle of PanArmenianism must ensure the strong practical link between Armenia and the Armenian Diaspora.
Armenia is ready for equal and mutually beneficial cooperation with any country.
Armenia will continue to work for regional peace, security and development, and to cooperate with friendly states and all other partners to this end.
We will continue to contribute to international security and international cooperation, to promote the resolution of global issues and work closely with all our partners in all possible bilateral and multilateral platforms.
I already had an opportunity to note it, but I would like to state again, that the Velvet Revolution in Armenia was devoid of geopolitical orientations, and the fact that Armenia did not take foreign policy steps changing the correlation with the global powers and began to build its relations with all actors based on the principle of sovereignty attest to that.
Both in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process and in the framework of building relations with power centres Armenia relies on the goal of maintaining security and peace in the region.
Maintaining and strengthening security and peace in the South Caucasus derives from the interests of all the nations in the region. We have witnessed the dire consequences the collapse of the security system had in our neighboring regions for those nations, their economy and statehood. Maintaining political and military balance is a necessary condition for our regional security and peace, and Armenia is taking consistent steps in that direction.
The attempts of Azerbaijan to upset the political-military balance, which up to now have been demonstrated through the use of force as well, represent a threat to regional security and peace.
Armenia supports the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, but Armenia can’t accept the implicit or explicit threats of use of force by Azerbaijan and any aspirations to make the ceasefire regime relative. Azerbaijan's efforts to negotiate in a tense environment hamper the creation of an environment conducive for peace and thus do not contribute to a lasting and comprehensive settlement of the problem.
With its unchanging anti-Armenian policy Azerbaijan remains an existential threat to the people of Artsakh.
Peace has no alternative and the Republic of Armenia and Artsakh have sufficient capacity to ensure peace.
We highly appreciate the role of the only internationally accepted mediating mission, the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship, and the Co-Chair countries in the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the maintenance of regional peace.
Armenia has clearly expressed its approaches to the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and in this regard, I would like to particularly emphasize the statements voiced by the Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan at the joint session of the Security Councils of the Republic of Armenia and Artsakh held on March 12 and the meeting held on August 5 at Renaissance Square.
Status and security issues are of primary importance to us in the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process. Armenia cannot go for any settlement option that could endanger the security of the people of Artsakh and limit the scope of exercising the right to self-determination.
The right of the people of Artsakh to self-determination and the inalienable status-neutral rights also imply the free expression of will, including the conduct of free elections in Artsakh and the active involvement of the representatives elected during those elections in the negotiation process.
If Azerbaijan is genuinely interested in a peaceful settlement of the conflict, it should be equally interested in negotiating with the elected representatives of the people of Artsakh.
Turkey's refusal to normalize relations with Armenia, economic blockade of Armenia, continued denial of the Armenian Genocide and, more recently, the justification of genocidal actions, unconditional and open support to Azerbaijan in the context of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict creates a serious security threat for Armenia, and the necessity of continued resistance shapes the policy of Armenia aimed at maintaining regional security, including in terms of foreign policy priorities.
Armenia’s comprehensive security and development agenda define our foreign policy priorities.
The Russian Federation and the Republic of Armenia remain reliable strategic allies. We are united with the people of Russia through the common history, close cultural and human ties. The allied agenda of cooperation between Armenia and Russia is extensive. It includes issues related to the military-political security, energy and infrastructure development, trade and economic cooperation, educational and cultural exchange programs and our cooperation is developing in almost all areas of public life. Armenia attaches great importance to the integration processes within the framework of the CSTO and the EAEU and to the development and pursuit of common interests with all the member states.
Being an integral part of the European civilization and system of values, Armenia continues to deepen its cooperation with the European Union, the EU member states, all countries of the European continent. Political dialogue, support to Armenia's democratic reforms and state structures, as well as sectoral cooperation play an important role in cooperation emerging from the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement with the European Union.
We attach importance of the EU’s role in the programs of regional cooperation.
We highly appreciate the consistent development of our cooperation with the EU member states. From this perspective, I would highlight the volume of cooperation with France and Germany.
In the context of our collaboration with our European partners, I would like to commend the establishment of Cyprus-Armenia-Greece trilateral format.
The United States has played an important role in the security environment established around Armenia since the first years of independence, having an important involvement in maintaining regional peace.
We also highly appreciate the economic and financial support of the United States, which has essentially contributed to stabilizing social and economic situation during the first years of our independence. We are confident that the platform of strategic dialogue with the United States contains new opportunities for broadening and deepening the cooperation agenda.
In the frameworks of Armenia’s foreign political priorities our relations with our immediate neighbors - Georgia and Iran, are emphasized, which are based on centuries-old good neighborhoods and have an important meaning for regional security and development. The development of cooperation with those two countries advances the broadening and diversification of energy and transportation interconnectivity.
Along with global changes, the development of our relations with China gains special importance. Armenia is ready to discuss its engagement in global infrastructure programs taking into account our national and regional agenda.
Historically, the Armenian people have important involvement in the Asian region, and we intend to continue and broaden our cooperation with India and Japan.
Armenia’s historic ties and the Armenian presence in the Middle East have civilizational importance and are expressed through the values of tolerance and dialogue in the Middle East, peaceful coexistence of the religions - Christianity and Islam. The Armenian nation has established a strong basis of friendship with the nations of Egypt, Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. Armenia is intended to develop those historic ties. The Syria crisis has a direct impact on Armenia and the Armenian presence in the region - it can not be ignored. Armenia’s humanitarian mission in Syria is to address those concerns.
Armenia is consistently broadening its engagement with the Gulf countries as well.
Armenia intends to develop its relations with all the states of the Middle East without exception based on the proclaimed foreign political principles.
The active involvement of the Armenian communities, the potential of cooperation with the Latin American countries has paved a way for our active cooperation with the states of that continent, for instance, Argentina, Uruguay, Brazil and Mexico. The positive dynamics of cooperation with those countries must undoubtedly continue.
Armenia intends to develop and implement new projects of cooperation with the ASEAN member states and the Pacific region, and the recent regional visit of Prime Minister of Armenia attests to that.
We also give importance to the development of existing relations with Canada, as well as developing new ways for cooperation with Australia.
For the foreign policy of Armenia, the continent of Africa remains a new direction and we open this direction by establishing close cooperation with Ethiopia- our historical friend in Africa. Already this year we are planning to open our diplomatic representation in Addis Ababa, which is also the headquarters of the African Union and a unique gate to the region. Armenia attaches importance to the African direction from the point of fostering development agenda as well.
Describing the development agenda of our bilateral relations, I had a chance to mention the important role of the Armenian communities in different countries, which already derives from our foreign political principles, that were put into circulation today. I would like to especially mention that the Armenian communities carry an important mission of serving as a bridge between their historical and host motherlands.
No country alone can withstand the global and transnational challenges that humanity faces.
Effective multilateralism forms action-driven solidarity between big and small states and is a pledge for international security, peace and development. That is why Armenia is more than determined to continue conducting initiative and effective multilateral diplomacy. We are intended to strengthen our engagement in international security, sustainable development, human rights, tolerance and anti-discrimination, cultural and scientific, climate change, migration, refugees and other international agendas.
Armenia will continue its active and engaged presence in all international and regional organizations, including the UN, the OSCE, the Council of Europe, the CIS, the International Organization of la Francophonie, etc.
To this end, Armenia will continue to make its important contribution to the international peace and security agenda. Our partners highly appreciate Armenia's involvement in peacekeeping operations around the world, in particular, in Lebanon, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Mali. We are committed to maintain and expand this engagement. Armenia provides humanitarian assistance to populations affected by conflicts or mass atrocities.
Combating terrorism, cybercrime, drug trafficking and other transnational crimes is another important area of international security that we engage with our international partners, primarily using the platforms of the UN, the OSCE and the CSTO.
In the framework of our international cooperation, the agenda of sustainable development plays an important role. We will continue to closely participate in the initiatives and projects, aimed at international development, including the frameworks of The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The use of best international practice and resources and their localization in our national programs is our main goal of sustainable development. These approaches are completely reflected in our activities within the UN frameworks, including through the current membership in the Economic and Social Council.
The agenda of smart development, including digitalization, innovative science are one of the priorities of thematic approaches of our foreign policy. From this perspective, I give importance to broadening cooperation platforms both within bilateral cooperation and through events of international scale, for example, the World Congress on Information Technology, which will be held in Yerevan this year.
At the same time, we are ready to share and offer our formed experience in smart and innovative development to our international partners. They are best reflected in the “TUMO” and “COAF Smart Center” - centers for creative education, the Armath engineering laboratories, Dasaran.am and many other projects.
The Velvet revolution, the following parliamentary elections, the strong mandate given to our government by the people lead to bolder protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the international sphere, including tolerance and anti-discrimination, fight against hate speech and its expressions.
With this, we confidently move forward towards the upcoming elections of the UN Human Rights Council. Along with fundamental freedoms, we will continue to attach more importance to the issues concerning the protection of the rights of women and children, which is reflected in our presidency in the UN Commission on the Status of Women.
For more than two decades Armenia has been taking effective steps in establishing and strengthening the agenda of preventing genocides and other mass atrocities. In this field, we have become more than recognized. Thanks to Armenia the provision on prevention of mass violation of human rights was materialized. We will continue to strengthen the legal basis for prevention of genocides, strengthening of the international, regional and national mechanisms of protection, also through organizing the Global Forum Against Crime of Genocide in order to provide cooperation platform for politicians, experts, scientists and human rights defenders, who are active in this field.
Tolerance, mutual respect, dialogue and reconciliation play a huge role in the prevention of human rights violations.
Strengthening the values of tolerance is also a part of our cultural, scientific and educational agenda, civilizational cooperation agenda, which actively develops in bilateral and multilateral formats, such as cooperation with UNESCO, the Council of Europe and the CIS. Taking that into account, Armenia suggested the use of the motto “Living together” for the La Francophonie summit, held last year in Yerevan.
Armenia highly appreciates the establishment of the Ancient Civilizations Forum and is ready to undertake all necessary efforts to ensure the viability of the format.
Our work has practical nature, aimed at ensuring concrete results.
It is often said that foreign policy is the continuation of domestic policy. I would only add that foreign policy is more effective and self-confident when it serves the free and creative citizens, consolidated society and is based on consolidated domestic policy. From this perspective, I must mention that today’s Armenia provides a more favorable domestic situation for foreign policy.
At the same time, the primary responsibility of Armenia’s diplomacy is to use international cooperation both in bilateral and multilateral platforms for the implementation of our national aspirations and goals, for instance, for Armenia’s security, reforms and development agendas.
The multi-layered reforms, being carried out in Armenia, are aimed at strengthening democratic institutions, rule of law and human rights. The axis of reforms of our government is Armenia’s citizen, who must maximally enjoy the benefits of effective governance.
Reforms in the judiciary system represent today’s primary priority. We will actively continue to ensure the engagement of potential international expertise. Developing partnery relations have already been established in this direction including with the EU and the Council of Europe.
Our most important function has been and remains the establishment of a foreign political environment conducive to social-economic development and economic revolution.
The effective use of foreign political components plays an important role in the success of industrial, knowledge-based, creative and innovative Armenia. The entry of Armenian companies to new markets, the involvement of investments and new technologies in Armenia, the programs of joint development are primary issues, for the solution of which our diplomacy must have its solid contribution, as well.
In this direction, our primary task is to establish cooperation platforms and give an opportunity to the direct players of the development agenda, including business and scientific communities, to fully utilize the cooperation opportunities with international partners.
The existing challenges in the sphere of energy and transportation security need new efforts for diversification and development of the sphere of infrastructures, and here as well, we have an important role through establishing and fostering international cooperation.
The increasing role of women in all spheres of our society, protection and advancement of women’s rights remains an important priority of our reforms. From this perspective, we highly value the implementation of the achievements reached in the multilateral framework, aimed at the protection of human rights.
Adopting the national program on implementing the UN SC Resolution 1325 is an important point in the way of engaging women, who suffered from conflicts, into support programs.
The existing challenges are very clear, but the political will to overcome them is even clearer.
The Government of Armenia has an ambitious vision of development of Armenia, some provisions of which were outlined in the speech of Prime Minister of RA Nikol Pashinyan of August 5 in Stepanakert.
The strategy of Armenia’s transformation is a result of an ambitious mind, all those serving their nation and motherland, including the members of Armenia’s diplomatic service, are bearers of that.
We can accomplish all of this if we all believe and trust our strengths together. We are the initiators and we bear responsibility not only for relations with the host countries but each of you is also responsible for our entire system and generally for our state mission. Our overall success will depend on how engaged and consistent, initiative and dedicated each of you are. And the success of the Foreign Ministry is the security, development and dignity of the Republic of Armenia in the international fora.
So, I will ask for skills, ability, devotion, professionalism from you expressed by serious practical results for the benefit of our nation and our statehood.
I thank you.