Armenian, French leaders comment on CU, Karabakh, Genocide

Armenian, French leaders comment on CU, Karabakh, Genocide

PanARMENIAN.Net - The centuries-old friendship is the basis of Armenian-Russian ties, President Serzh Sargsyan stated at a joint press conference with his French counterpart Francois Hollande, commenting on Yerevan’s decision to join the Customs Union, Aysor.am reported.

“For a long time, we lived in the same state and were linked by economy and culture, which formed the basis of our relations. I think no one considers Armenia’s decision to join the Customs Union to be strange. Beside other factors, the Customs Union offers some advantages to member states, allowing Armenia to import energy carriers at competitive prices,” Sargsyan said, noting that all of the above does not suggest Armenia intends to sever ties with the European Union.

"We will continue developing relations with the European Union,” the Armenian president said.

For his part, Francois Hollande indicated Armenia’s peculiar geopolitical conditions as the reason behind the county’s decision to continue its relations with Russia.

“I don’t mean to blame anyone, but rather, try to understand motives for that decision. I want Armenia to continue deepening ties with the European Union,” the French President said.

"Azerbaijan’s attempts to misrepresent the situation and developments around the Nagorno Karabakh conflict settlement talks are useless," Tert.am quoted the Armenian leader as saying.

The President further addressed the OSCE Minsk Group mediators’ recent statement and the speech delivered by Ambassador James Warlick, the American Co-Chair of the mission, ahead of the 20th anniversary of the ceasefire.

“Nagorno Karabakh’s final status has to be determined based on a legally binding principle stemming from the people’s free expression of will, a statement repeatedly voiced by the presidents of France, U.S. and Russia. Warlick did not say anything new; [the statement] repeated what his president had said on different occasions. No matter how much the Azerbaijani leadership may try to construe those approaches and principles in its own way, nothing will come out of it,” he said.

President Sargsyan warned against attempts to generalize conflicts.

“Every conflict has its own origins and therefore every solution requires a different approach,” the president said commenting on the remarks suggesting some countries use double standards in settlements of conflicts.

The two leaders also dwelled on the issue of the Armenian Genocide, with Hollande commenting on the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's message of condolences ahead of the 99th anniversary of the 1915 massacres. "I'm always trying to be positive, but recognition of the Genocide is the only solution Turkey can offer," Hollande said, confirming his intention to visit Yerevan on the centenary of the Genocide.

Hollande arrived in Armenia for a 2-day visit on May 12.

The French and Armenian leaders had a tete-a-tete meeting, followed by extended-format negotiations. Documents for further development of bilateral cooperation in a number of sectors were inked.

The presidents attended the concert of famed chansonnier Charles Aznavour at Sports and Concert Complex; a state dinner was held in Hollande’s honour at the presidential palace.

The presidents participated in the opening ceremony of a park after the national hero of France and eminent poet Misak Manushyan and visited the construction site of the French company Carrefour's hypermarket.

The conflict between Nagorno Karabakh and Azerbaijan

The conflict between Nagorno Karabakh and Azerbaijan broke out as result of the ethnic cleansing launched by the Azeri authorities in the final years of the Soviet Union. The Karabakh War was fought from 1991 (when the Nagorno Karabakh Republic was proclaimed) to 1994 (when a ceasefire was sealed by Armenia, NKR and Azerbaijan). Most of Nagorno Karabakh and a security zone consisting of 7 regions are now under control of NKR defense army. Armenia and Azerbaijan are holding peace talks mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group up till now.

The Armenian Genocide

The Armenian Genocide (1915-23) was the deliberate and systematic destruction of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire during and just after World War I. It was characterized by massacres, and deportations involving forced marches under conditions designed to lead to the death of the deportees, with the total number of deaths reaching 1.5 million.

The majority of Armenian Diaspora communities were formed by the Genocide survivors.

Present-day Turkey denies the fact of the Armenian Genocide, justifying the atrocities as “deportation to secure Armenians”. Only a few Turkish intellectuals, including Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk and scholar Taner Akcam, speak openly about the necessity to recognize this crime against humanity.

The Armenian Genocide was recognized by Uruguay, Russia, France, Lithuania, the Italian Chamber of Deputies, majority of U.S. states, parliaments of Greece, Cyprus, Argentina, Belgium and Wales, National Council of Switzerland, Chamber of Commons of Canada, Polish Sejm, Vatican, European Parliament and the World Council of Churches.

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