Serzh Sargsyan: EU membership has never been on Armenia’s agenda

Within the framework of the visit to the Czech Republic, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan gave an interview to the Czech Lidové Noviny paper, President’s Press office reported. Asked whether Armenia’s decision to join the Customs Union means the suspension of the European integration process, Serzh Sargsyan said: “We have been productively cooperating in a number of spheres for a long time now, and we are about to continue our relations. I mean reforms in spheres such as reinforcement of democratic institutions, protection of human rights and others.

“We attach great importance to the cooperation with the European Union. With the joint statement adopted in Vilnius we reiterated our commitment to develop and reinforce the cooperation in spheres of mutual interest in the future. In Vilnius the Armenian Foreign Minister and the EU High Representative exchanged letters, outlining the agenda of Armenia-EU cooperation,” President Sargsyan said. He added, however, that joining the European Union had never been on Armenia’s agenda.

“Armenia has been successfully developing partnership relations with NATO. We implement an Individual Partnership Action Plan, participate in NATO-led operations in Kosovo and Afghanistan. Nevertheless, we have never noticed any NATO member state making it clear to Turkey that the latter causes considerable harm to the organization with its actions,” President Sargsyan said. “It’s a paradox that we make our contribution to the security system of the North Atlantic Treaty, while the policy of another NATO participating country causes direct harm to this security system,” the President added.

The Armenian President referred to the independence of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic and noted that for more than 20 years Artsakh has been successfully developing a democratic society and statehood based on European values.

“As an outstanding Czech writer, advocate and statesman Václav Havel has noted, “When a truth is not given complete freedom, freedom is not complete.”

“I think that’s why Azerbaijan does not want many people to visit Artsakh. Azerbaijan blacklists visitors to Nagorno Karabakh and ban them from visiting Azerbaijan in the future,” he said.

“The issue of the status of Nagorno Karabakh is a matter of negotiations under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs. According to the logic of the proposals of the mediators, the final status should be determined by the people of Nagorno Karabakh through a legally binding free expression of will.”

“Azerbaijan does not stop addressing threats to Armenia and Artsakh, ignoring the calls of the international community to prepare the peoples to peace, not war,” the President said. ” Both Armenia and Artsakh share the approach of the Minsk Group Co-chairs that there is no alternative to the peaceful settlement. We are confident that the application of new violence will lead to new human losses and destruction, but will never solve the Nagorno Karabakh issue,” Serzh Sargsyan said.

Speaking about the Armenian-Turkish relations, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan said the main obstacle to normalization is the refusal of the Turkish side to respect earlier agreements to ratify the two protocols on the establishment of diplomatic relations and opening of the border signed in Zurich in 2009 without any preconditions.

“The international community agrees with the Armenian approach of normalizing relations without preconditions and considers that the ball is now in the Turkish court,” the President said.

“We are ready to resume the process of normalization of relations if Turkey demonstrates political will to refrain from its policy of preconditions. The implementation of the protocols will become an important component of reinforcement of stability in the whole region,” he stated.

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