Politics 13:30 26/03/2024 Armenia

Pashinyan: CSTO hasn't fulfilled its security obligations towards Armenia

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan gave an interview to the Greek newspaper Kathimerini, which is provided below.

Kathimerini daily, Athanasios Katsikidis: In your meeting with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, you highlighted the “Crossroads of Peace” project for the creation of a trade hub that will run from Armenia westwards through Turkey to the Mediterranean Sea and Greece. How would your proposed plan promote regional stability and security in the Caucasus to the Mediterranean?

Nikol Pashinyan: The contribution to the establishment of lasting peace and stability in the South Caucasus is a top priority for the Republic of Armenia. In the process of the desired change, Armenia stresses the need to remove the blockade of infrastructure in the region. The “Crossroads of Peace” project includes, inter alia, a significant increase in the capacity to transport goods, cars, electricity transmission pipelines, and Internet cables between the Black Sea on the one hand and the Persian Gulf as well as the Gulf of Oman on the other, passing through the territories of Armenia. The project also envisages the creation of a rail link between the above-mentioned final destinations, which is possible if Armenia-Azerbaijan relations are normalized. It should be remembered that the optimal railway route from Georgia entering Armenia and continuing to the Islamic Republic of Iran passes through Nakhichevan, Azerbaijan, which has existed since the Soviet Union. This is the north-south wing of the “Crossroads of Peace.”

Still, there is the east-west wing, which can connect the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean Sea, as well as the Turkish Black Sea ports through the territory of Armenia. For this, highways, railways, pipelines, power transmission lines, and cables must enter Turkey from Azerbaijan through Armenia. And we are ready to provide such solutions.

So, for the operation of all these infrastructures we have adopted the commonly accepted principles in the “Crossroads” of Peace project, which are as follows: a) all infrastructures are under the sovereignty and jurisdiction of the countries through which they pass; b) each country implements border and customs control on its territory through its state institutions, as well as takes the necessary measures for its security; c) the designated infrastructures can be used for both international and domestic transport; d) finally, all countries use the infrastructure for the transport of goods.

Athanasios Katsikidis: The recent war in Nagorno-Karabh has highlighted the necessity of international cooperation and defense partnerships, with Greece standing by the Armenian people by providing humanitarian aid. With regional risks and threats on the rise, what does the defense memorandum you signed with your counterpart signify?

Nikol Pashinyan: Since the early years of the independence of the Republic of Armenia, the Armenian people have always enjoyed the support of Greece. I take this opportunity, once again, to express my gratitude to the Greek people and the Greek government for standing by us and supporting us in difficult times.

There is a long tradition of cooperation in the defense sector. In December last year (2023), the military-technical cooperation agreement between the two governments was signed, which entails the exchange of experience, knowledge and the development of joint projects. Many Armenian cadets have the opportunity to study in Greek educational institutions: these are just some of the points of cooperation in this field, and currently, regular military exercises are carried out. Despite the excellent cooperation in the defense sector, there is great potential for further development. In the near future, we hope that cooperation in this direction will be expanded.

I should mention that Armenia’s cooperation with its partners in the defense sector is not directed against any country. The development of Armenia’s defense capabilities is aimed at protecting Armenia’s independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity, and guarding its borders.

Athanasios Katsikidis: The recent signing of the “Declaration on friendly relations and good neighborliness” between Greece and Turkey has reduced the tension between the two countries. As Turkey’s eastern neighbor, have you noticed the decrease in regional tension and in inflammatory statements?

Nikol Pashinyan: Turkey is a regional player and it is natural to expect that it should have a balanced position on the various developments in the region. No less attention is paid to Turkey’s official rhetoric, which can both promote and jeopardize the processes. On the other hand, Armenia expects that Turkey’s rhetoric will not be aimed at increasing regional tensions, but will contribute to promoting dialogue and cooperation in the region.

As you know, Armenia and Turkey have started the process of normalization of relations, which is aimed at establishing diplomatic relations between the countries and the full opening of borders. In the framework of this process, an agreement was reached on the opening of the Armenian-Turkish land borders for citizens of third countries and persons with diplomatic passports. So, we really believe that the implementation of this agreement will have a positive impact on regional dynamics as well.

I have to say that the developments between Greece and Turkey prove once again that it is possible to overcome differences and form a mutually beneficial agenda of cooperation between the neighbors.

Athanasios Katsikidis: Armenia recently froze its participation in the Russian Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), while Russia’s soft stance on the Azeri attack has raised concerns among your citizens. Given these facts, are you willing to adopt a more Western approach to international politics?

Nikol Pashinyan: The Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), in our assessment, has not fulfilled its security obligations to the Republic of Armenia, specifically in the period 2021-2022. The practical result (of this policy of the CSTO) is that we have effectively frozen our participation in the organization. As of September 2023, we do not have a permanent representative in the CSTO, and we do not participate in the CSTO negotiations at the high and highest level. However, we do not block the decisions of the CSTO, but neither do we participate in them.

Turning to the second part of the question, I can note that Armenia is open to establishing and developing mutually beneficial relations with all partners and has a clear position on the establishment of stable and lasting peace in the region. To this end, we are diversifying our relations on security issues.

Athanasios Katsikidis: The Armenian community in Greece has more than 30,000 members, many of whom excel in the arts, academia and even engaging in politics. What initiatives are being considered to enhance people-to-people exchanges and cultural cooperation between Armenia and Greece?

Nikol Pashinyan: You are right. Both the Armenian community living in Greece and the Greek community living in Armenia are an important factor in strengthening our bilateral relations. It is important that the existing strong historical relations are strengthened by the contacts of the new generations of Armenians and Greeks, and we must take steps to create opportunities for mutual recognition. In this regard, I would like to stress the importance of both tourism, which is perhaps the best opportunity to strengthen people-to-people relations and joint scientific and educational programs. In the near future, it is planned to sign a new program of bilateral cooperation in the field of education, which will provide new opportunities for student-faculty exchanges. Recently, a cooperation agreement was signed between the Armenian Government and the Democritus University of Thrace, where the Armenian Language and Culture Centre will operate. In the near future, a number of other joint initiatives in the scientific and cultural fields are planned, which will contribute to the strengthening of bilateral cultural relations.

Of course, in order to intensify people-to-people contact, it is necessary that negotiations on the liberalization of the visa regime with EU countries be successful. Armenia has been ready to implement this process for a long time.

Athanasios Katsikidis: How do you envision the future development of the bilateral relations between Armenia and Greece and what is your message to the Greek people?

Nikol Pashinyan: Relations between Armenia and Greece are based on a shared history and long-standing friendship, as well as a commitment to common values. It is in this context that we are also considering further development of bilateral relations. Armenia believes that its development can be achieved directly through the improvement of democratic institutions, while we are also trying to develop our cooperation with European institutions: first of all, with the European Union. In this direction, Greece’s experience and support are very important to us. So, I believe that the deepening of bilateral relations in all directions will prepare the ground for the development of close cooperation between Armenia and Greece to a higher strategic level. In conclusion, I would like to wish the friendly Greek people peace, prosperity and progress.

Source Panorama.am
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