Armenia on the move
US vote on genocide “long-awaited:” President Kocharian
The US House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs on October 10 approved a non-binding resolution recognising as “genocide” the mass killings of Armenians by Ottoman-Turkish forces in 1915. Now, the approved resolution will move on to the full House, where a vote is expected to take place by mid-November. The text of the resolution says the killing of up to 1.5 million Armenians was genocide and that it should be acknowledged fully in US policy toward Turkey, along with “the consequences of the failure to realise a just resolution.”
Armenian President Robert Kocharian, on a visit to Brussels on October 11 spoke in an exclusive interview to Tejinder Singh, the first journalist to listen to the “soft-spoken tough President,” about the vote, among other subjects.
Welcoming the vote President Kocharian said, “It’s a long-awaited decision from the Committee and we could predict that the decision could be made. We know its going to continue at the House level. And we hope that this process will lead to the full recognition by the United States of America of the fact of the Armenian genocide.“Historic justice can not be ruled by current matters,” he said. He added: “And (this vote) will not bring any additional tensions in the region.” He lamented the Turkish approach, saying, “Each time such a resolution comes up, the national parliament in the Turkish side tries to blackmail and put threats on the side which is about to recognise ‘genocide’ but we all understand that we have never seen those threats coming into reality.” “Actually the list of countries that have recognised genocide is much longer than just France and US in which the process is still ongoing. Over 20 countries including Russian state, Arab states with Lebanon in particular, many European countries including Belgium, Switzerland and many others in different forms and ways.”
President Kocharian highlighted the fact that no one has denied the genocide, saying, “This is one of the situations that one of the states that has not yet recognised the ‘genocide’ has not said anything contrary to it as well.”
Speaking about his visit to the European capital, President Kocharian was candid in admitting that his country is looking forward to guidance from the European Union for the proper development of legislation and implementation of the ongoing reforms in the country including essential judicial reforms. Visa facilitation, advanced cooperation with cultural dialogue and free trade agreement along with a major thrust with European Neighbourhood Policy were other major issues being discussed, he added.
Coming back to the question of Armenia-Turkey relationships, President Kocharian said, “We have never applied to the European Union to put pressure on Turkey. Only request we have asked is we support opening of border and restoration of diplomatic relations without pre-conditions.” Moreover, Armenia is not against the accession of Turkey to the EU but only has repeatedly asked the EU “not to give preferential treatment to any country during accession process.”
On the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, the president commended the OSCE Minsk Group as “professional and competent” with respect to the ongoing talks but lambasted Azerbaijan attempts to raise the issue at the UN as another sort of propaganda which “contradicts the other positive approach.”
The financial scenario in Armenia has come a long way in the last decade and the president declared, “We consider first phase of reforms are over and we have entered the stage of stable development.” From the days of inheriting a centralised totalitarian system Armenia is today chugging along building market economy with “results showing,” a satisfied president announced.
Asked to comment on latest media reports that Gazprom Neft, the oil arm of Russian energy company Gazprom — is reportedly considering an investment of USD 1.7 billion to build the joint oil refinery, which would process oil pumped from Tabriz in northern Iran, President Kocharian said, “It was our proposal and we are discussing the details.” Hailing the role of Gazprom in the development of Armenia, the president said, “Our cooperation with Gazprom is going on since 1998 and the period since then has passed with mutual benefits.”
President Kocharian during his visit to Brussels met European Union leaders including European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and EU Secretary General and High Representative Javier Solana.
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