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H. E. Mr. Serzh Sargsyan, President

25 September 2008

Statement Summary

SERZH SARGSYAN, President of Armenia, said he represented a country, which in recent weeks, had been in an unacceptable situation.  Blood had been shed in the South Caucasus, and once again, innocent people had died because leaders failed to bring a peaceful resolution to existing conflicts.  The unsettling expression “cold war” had again emerged, and the Assembly’s main task should be a joint demand to unequivocally rule out such developments.

Indeed, he called for establishing a new viable structure, as it was impossible to tackle today’s challenges exclusively with structures established after Second World War.  The world continued to respond to today’s nettlesome challenges -– terrorism, international crime and drug trafficking among them -- through institutions envisaged to merely smooth over controversies.  Regional cooperation could be among the essential means to address such challenges, and Armenia had always promoted such action as the most effective way to address existing problems.  Open borders and interrelated economic systems were also crucial.

On rising food and fuel prices, he said the world continued to witness unilateral sanctions and border closures.  Existing problems with neighbouring States could not be solved without dialogue, and with that in mind, he was pleased at Turkish President Abdullah Gül’s “bold decision” to accept his invitation to come to Yerevan as part of the “football diplomacy” initiative.  The time had come to solve Armenian-Turkish problems, and Mr. Sargsyan was certain of the need to move resolutely in that direction.

Events in the South Caucasus region held “very serious” lessons for the world, he explained, saying first that the United Nations must strictly follow the spirit of its Charter.  Should any Member State increase its military budget, among other things, it must receive a rapid and firm response.  “Prevention is preferable over cure,” he said.

It was also time to seriously consider the right of people to self-determination, and he opposed the idea that each claim be resolved through secession.  There was no doubt that to be viable, such an outcome should be endorsed by all parties involved, which was why Armenia continued to negotiate with Azerbaijan in the framework of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Minsk Group, seeking recognition by that country for the independent Republic of Nagorno Karabakh, which had been independent for two decades.  Those people had been subject to brutal war, and for years, had been on the brink of extinction.  They had neither a regular army nor any ability or intention to occupy any Azeri territory.

In recent months, a resolution related to one episode in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict had been adopted with only 30 of 146 States voting in favour of it.  A sensitive problem, with “deep roots and bloody developments”, had been decided upon by the majority to support one of the parties.  That outcome had been “more than predictable”.  He hoped that Azerbaijan’s real interest was in the peaceful and comprehensive resolution of the conflict.  The process mediated by the Minsk Group aimed to reach that goal, and Armenia had undertaken serious work with the mediation of the Minsk Group Co-Chairs.

Noting that this year marked the sixtieth anniversaries of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and of the Convention on Genocide Prevention, he said that such anniversaries were more than merely “important”.  His country would do everything possible to advocate continuously for the Genocide Convention, and he recognized that Armenia had “important things to do” to guarantee the full implementation of the Universal Declaration.  On that road, Armenia was trying not to repeat others’ mistakes.

[Source: GA/10754]