Politics 15:59 26/10/2023

Pashinyan presents 'Crossroads of Peace' project at Tbilisi forum

Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan on Thursday participated in the Silk Road international conference in Tbilisi. Prime Minister of Georgia Irakli Garibashvili, Prime Minister of Montenegro Dritan Abazović, Prime Minister of Azerbaijan Ali Asadov and other high-ranking officials, representatives of international organizations also attended the event.

In his speech, Pashinyan presented the "Crossroads of Peace" project of the Armenian government and its principles. His full statement is provided below.

"It is a great honor for me to participate in the Tbilisi "Silk Road" conference, which is being held for the fourth time, and to be part of this important discussion. I would like to express my gratitude to the Government of Georgia and personally to Prime Minister Garibashvili for the important initiative to hold this conference and for the warm hospitality.

We all know the phrase "Silk Road" from school textbooks. Many people, I am sure, do not remember many details about the historical holes and events of the Silk Road times. But the historical term "Silk Road" is associated in all of our minds with prosperity, peace, development, cooperation, because the Silk Road crossed through many countries and settlements, and these roads were used to create human, cultural, economic and political ties, were a means for the peoples and the countries to better know one another.

People transported not only goods through those roads, but also stories, customs, traditions, knowledge, skills. The road connects not only countries and cities, but also people, and hence, while a vibrant, active road is a sign of cooperation, peace, and success, then closed roads are an indication of problems.

We know this through our own example. Our roads are open with two of our four neighbors, which indicates that our relationships with them are friendly. Our roads are closed with two of our neighbors, The roads with two of our neighbors are closed, which is clearly telling of existing difficulties in the relationships. But I did not come today to tell about our difficult relations, rather I am here to say that without roads it will be very difficult to build peace.

Obviously, our region, the South Caucasus, needs peace. And what is peace? It is a state of affairs where countries live with open borders, are connected by active economic, political, and cultural ties, with accumulated experience and tradition of solving all issues diplomatically and through dialogue. This is what real peace is; and as you see, all of that, i.e. open borders, economic, political, and cultural ties are impossible without roads.

This is the reason why our Government developed and presents the "Crossroads of Peace" project as an important part of the peace agenda. The key essence of that project is the development of communications between Armenia, Turkey, Azerbaijan, and the Islamic Republic of Iran by means of renovating, building, and operating roads, railways, pipelines, cables, and electricity lines.

The railways passing through the south and north of Armenia have not been functioning regionally for thirty years, nor are many highways connecting the east and the west, while the reactivation of these roads would become a short and efficient route connecting the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean, both by rail and road.

Along the same lines, these rail and automotive communications could become an efficient route linking the Gulf with the Georgian ports on the South-Eastern shores of the Black Sea. Such a project would bring enormous benefits to all countries of our region, and I wish to invite the attention of governments and private investors to this opportunity.

After the speech, during the event, representatives of my team will distribute brochures about our project to the participants of the conference, and we will be happy to hear feedback and receive support on the way to the implementation of the project.

To be complete, I consider it important to emphasize the principles of "Crossroads of Peace", which are as follows.

Principle #1 All infrastructures, including roads, railways, airways, pipelines, cables, and electricity lines, operate under the sovereignty and jurisdiction of the countries through which they pass.

Principle #2 Each country, through its state institutions, in its territory ensures border, customs control and security of all the infrastructures, including the passage through its territory of vehicles, cargo, and people. In fact, in the near future, a special unit will be created within Armenia’s law-enforcement system, which will have the function of ensuring the security of international communications passing through Armenia, as well as the cargo, vehicles, and people using them, of course jointly with our Patrol Police.

Principle #3 These infrastructures can be used for both international and domestic transportation.

Principle #4 All countries use all the infrastructures on the basis of reciprocity and equality. According to the principle of reciprocity and equality, border and customs control procedures can be somewhat streamlined, too.

I wish to reiterate Armenia’s readiness to to open, re-open, reconstruct, build all regional communications based on these principles.

The aforementioned principles are needed to avoid a number of misunderstandings, misreadings, and differing interpretations. In the near future, we will also officially present this project to the governments of the countries of our region, and I hope that with joint efforts, including the involvement of investors, we will be able to implement it.

Dear attendees,

As I said, Crossroads for Peace is an integral part of the peace agenda. We are currently working on a draft peace and relations normalization agreement with Azerbaijan, and I hope this process will be successfully completed in the coming months.

I consider it necessary to present also the other two important principles of peace, on which we reached an agreement with Azerbaijan.

- Armenia and Azerbaijan mutually recognize each other's territorial integrity with the understanding that the territory of Armenia is 29 thousand 800 square kilometers, the territory of Azerbaijan is 86 thousand 600. This encyclopedic reference was meant to ensure that statements made by Armenia and Azerbaijan about recognition of each other’s territorial integrity leave no room for claiming that by recognizing the other country’s territorial integrity, one of the countries has in mind only a part of its internationally-recognized territory.

- The next principle is that Armenia and Azerbaijan agree to carry out border delimitation on the basis of the 1991 Alma-Ata Declaration. The key essence of Alma-Ata's declaration is as follows.

- The Soviet Union ceases to exist and the 12 republics that signed the Declaration, including Armenia and Azerbaijan, recognize each other's territorial integrity, sovereignty, the inviolability of existing, that is, administrative borders, and therefore the existing administrative borders between the republics of the Soviet Union become state borders.

As I said, we hope to sign an Agreement on Peace and Establishment of Relations with Azerbaijan in the coming months based on these principles.

I hope that in the near future there will be developments in the direction of opening the border between Armenia and Turkey for citizens of third countries and holders of diplomatic passports, which will also bring a positive stimulus to the entire region.

Returning to the "Crossroads of Peace", I must note that it fully fits in the logic of the Silk Road and we will be glad to receive in Armenia’s territory and to safely dispatch people, vehicles, goods, pipelines, cables, and electricity lines. Thank you. And in conclusion, I want to wish success to the "Silk Road" conference and wish for productive work. Thank you”.

Source Panorama.am
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