It is impossible to settle the Nagorno-Karabakh issue without hard and consistent work, without compromise, mutual respect, and balance, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said in his speech at the Institute for International Political Studies in Milan.
Nagorno-Karabakh issue 'impossible to settle' without compromise. Pashinyan
STEPANAKERT, NOVEMBER 21, ARTSAKHPRESS: Below is the official text of his address delivered at the meeting:
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is an honor for me to be here at the Italian Institute for International Political Studies – one of the top think-tanks in Italy and worldwide. I know that 2019 marks the 85th anniversary of the establishment of this institute. During its decades-long activity, combining policy-oriented research with an equally significant commitment to education, the institute has gone through volatile periods of history, bringing its contribution to policy-making worldwide.
So, once again thank you for the invitation to address this audience.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have no doubt that all of you here have heard about the non-violent, peaceful Velvet revolution that happened in Armenia in April, 2018. This revolution, being inner-driven without an outer support, was the hope of the Armenian people to reject decades-long era of corruption and fraud, to establish the rule of law over the rule of power.
Having assumed the responsibility to lead marches of protests, I clearly realized that in the history of the third Armenian statehood there has never been a time of greater promise, and, at the same time, a potential peril. I clearly realized that I had no right to let all those people down - women and men, the young and the old, who were following me.
After the elections, I clearly realized that the expectations of the people were very high, the promise of the revolution was quite big. We needed to translate the energy and excitement generated by wide scale mobilization into the work of building democratic institutions.
No doubt that in terms of values and aspirations of the people, democracy has won a landslide victory in Armenia. Today democracy has already become a part of our identity. However, we realize that we need to strengthen democracy institutionally in order to make it irreversible. We need to protect democracy from those who want to make a revenge and turn the clock back.
With this end in view, we launched reforms aimed at ensuring the rule of law, accountable governance, protection of fundamental rights and freedom.
Today, in our reforms we put emphasis on building our institutions, and the judiciary, in this regard, is of primary importance. It is well known that without a truly independent judiciary and public trust towards the judicial system, it is not possible to establish a fully functioning democracy and the rule of law. But that trust has to be earned. It has been broken for a long period of time, and needs efforts to be repaired. With the help of our international partners, we are on the track of earning it back.
In this context, I want to emphasize the role of the European Union, which has become Armenia’s primary partner in institution building and in implementing our reform agenda. The Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement between Armenia and the European Union, is of a particular importance to this end. It is noteworthy that the CEPA is a reform-generating tool, and the fulfillment of its provisions entails qualitative changes in many areas of our society.
Italy is one of the historic bridges bounding Armenia with Europe. Today it plays an important role in expanding cooperation and strengthening political, economic, and cultural relations between Armenia and the European Union. We value our friendly relations with Italy and intend to make every effort to move them even stronger and more substantive.
Close ties between our peoples go deep into the history when Armenia and the Roman Empire were neighbors, as it is depicted on four ancient maps on the wall of the Roman Forum. Back in the first century BC, Armenia was even declared a friend and ally of the Roman people.
The close ties between our ancient peoples are based on shared values and the common Christian traditions, which, of course, are one of the cornerstones of our friendship.
For Armenians it is of a great importance that the holy relics of the First Catholicos of the Armenian Apostolic Church are stored in the churches of San Gregorio Armeno of Naples and Nardo.
One of the most important centers contributing to the renaissance of the Armenian culture in the modern era is the island of St. Lazarus in Venice, where the Congregation of Mekhitarists was founded three centuries ago. The Congregation, which is still one of the major centers of Armenian studies, played an invaluable role in the enlightenment and cultural development of the Armenian people. It is yet another subject of a common pride for us and Italians.
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Traditional friendship between our peoples have created a strong foundation for the development of cooperation between our countries. Today we are determined to do everything possible for further deepening our relations.
Trade and economic cooperation is an important component of our relations. Italy is Armenia’s second largest trade and economic partner among the EU countries. In the first nine months of this year alone, trade between the two countries increased by about 14%. The Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement between Armenia and the European Union and Armenia’s participation in the Eurasian Economic Union open up additional prospects for the development of cooperation between our two countries.
The Armenian-Italian community is undoubtedly another factor contributing to our cooperation. We are grateful to the Italian Government for taking care of the Armenian cultural heritage existing in Italy. And last, but not least, we are grateful for the decision of the Italian Chamber of Deputies to recognize the Armenian Genocide in April this year.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
All of you here know, that Armenia is located in a volatile region with many security risks and challenges. Unresolved conflicts, which are producing ongoing tension, an arms race, and hate politics, are still alive in the South Caucasus.
Thirty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, two out of Armenia’s four borders – those with Turkey and Azerbaijan – have remained sealed for about three decades. By refusing to establish diplomatic relations with Armenia and overtly assisting Azerbaijan against Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, Turkey remains a serious security threat to Armenia and the Armenian people who experienced the first genocide of the 20th century in Ottoman Empire and continue to face the fierce denial of truth and justice.
Although the two other borders with our friends, Georgia and Iran, are open, however, in terms of economic efficiency, they can be considered only half-open. Foreign policy challenges of our two neighbors limit the potential for external relations of our economy and undermine the possibilities for a full-scale regional cooperation.
But the biggest security challenge for us is the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. It still remains unresolved becoming a source of permanent tension, and threatening to escalate into another outbreak of hostilities.
Anyone interested in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict should know the background of the conflict. This conflict is not a territorial dispute, as some have tried to present it in a simplified way. It is about the right to self-determination, human rights, and the physical security of the people that live there.
The roots of the conflict date back to early days of the Soviet Union when an Armenian region with 95 percent of Armenian population was assigned to Azerbaijan by an arbitrary decision of the Communist party. This happened as a result of an agreement reached between Bolshevik