President Serzh Sargsyan who is the Czech Republic on a working visit, today took part in a high-level meeting held on the occasion of the 5th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership. At the meeting, the President made a statement.
Statement by the President of the Republic of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan at the High-level Meeting on the 5th Anniversary of the Eastern Partnership
Distinguished President Zeman,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the outset I would like to express my gratitude to President Zeman and the Czech authorities for organizing this high-level meeting on the occasion of the 5th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership. It was exactly here, in Prague, that our joint journey called Eastern Partnership was launched five years ago, which expanded and complemented our cooperation agenda based on shared Pan-European system of values with the European Union.
Today I embarked on the road to Prague from the Armenian Genocide Memorial, where I paid tribute to the memory of the innocent victims of the Armenian Genocide. On April 24, 1915 in Constantinople hundreds of Armenian intellectuals – writers, artists, doctors, public figures – were detained and slaughtered in accordance with a premeditated criminal plan devised and meticulously implemented by the Ottoman state structures, and thus had been launched what was designated in the human history as the first genocide of the 20th century.
Today I would like to enunciate a word of gratitude to those states, organizations and individuals, who extended their hand to support us at the times of our national tragedy, recognized and condemned the Armenian Genocide. Time constraint does not act as a statutory limitation for the crime of genocide, and with the Armenian Genocide Centenary ahead I would like to reiterate the importance of the international community’s recognition and condemnation of that unprecedented crime.
We are committed to the cause of recognition and condemnation of all genocides around the world, and we have always been actively working in the international arena for the strengthening of the genocide prevention cooperation and legal instruments. In the framework of the United Nations Armenia has initiated and tabled a number of resolutions aimed at strengthening legal foundations for the struggle against the recurrence of the crime of genocide.
Turkey that strives for an EU membership continues to avoid its own past, circumvent responsibility, and for decades on has been falsifying history by pursuing policy of denial. Moreover, it spares no effort in order to force by all means upon other nations its denialism.
Today, thousands of Turkish citizens, whose numbers grow from year to year in spite of persecution and prosecution, repudiate Turkey’s policy of denial and stand by truth. Collating with one’s own history and understanding its consequences are important prerequisites for reconciliation. We believe that encouraging people to people contacts is another important prerequisite for reconciliation. Unfortunately, it is almost impossible since there are artificial impediments, and the border is closed.
The lack of normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations and last closed border of Europe continue to be a vulnerable element of the Pan-European security. It is paradoxical but nevertheless matter of fact that the EU membership aspiring Turkey sealed off its border with a neighboring country, while the borders within European Union have long become history and free movement is a basic principle.
When we refer to Pan-European values we first and foremost mean democracy, protection of human rights and the rule of law. And these are values that are fundamental to our state-building exercise, and serve as major guiding vision for further development of our country.
The process of reforms carried out under the Eastern Partnership tutelage in the preceding five years has significantly consolidated Armenia’s democratic development. Tangible progress has been registered in the fight against corruption, free and fair elections, ensuring free economic competition, improvement of transparent functioning of the state structures, safeguarding independence of judiciary and development of civil society. By the same token we are fully aware that we still have a lot to do in order to establish a real democracy of the European kind.
I consider encouragement of people to people contacts to be pivotal achievement in the framework of the Eastern Partnership. In this regard I would like to specify the progress registered in the area of entry visas, which is being proved by forming new legal framework for the facilitation of the citizens’ contacts and exchanges. The visa facilitation and readmission agreements are already in force.
The Ukrainian crisis has demonstrated that lack of understanding of the root causes of the current situation can call further proceeding of the Eastern Partnership into question. Armenia joined the Eastern Partnership with a deep conviction that it is not directed against any third country. We remain of that same conviction. This initiative has got all prerequisites to become not a separating wall but a bridge that connects. It is necessary to find solutions by means of a dialogue that take into account interests of all regional beneficiaries.