“Democracy should be the number one visiting card of Armenia’s foreign policy” - PM attends meeting with heads of Foreign Ministry’s central apparatus and diplomatic missions
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Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan attended the annual conference of the heads of the organizational units of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the heads of Armenia’s diplomatic missions in foreign states. Nikol Pashinyan delivered a speech, in which he stated:
“Honorable Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I welcome you to this meeting of the ambassadors of the Republic of Armenia, which is the first such event after the non-violent, velvet, popular revolution in Armenia and is a good occasion to talk about the conceptual provisions, principles and possible tools of foreign policy implemented by the government of the Republic of Armenia.
First of all, we must answer the following question: What is the fundamental goal of the foreign policy of the Republic of Armenia, how do we conduct it, and why does our country need foreign policy?
The goal of our foreign policy is to ensure the sovereignty and security of the Republic of Armenia, the consistent increase in the level of sovereignty and security, the formation of a more favorable external environment for the security and well-being of our country and its citizens.
And for this to happen, it is necessary that the voice, positions, approaches and goals of Armenia become more visible, more audible and more acceptable to the world. That is, it is necessary to increase the subjectivity of the Republic of Armenia in international relations, to increase the authority of the Republic of Armenia in international relations.
Do we have the prerequisites and opportunities for this? Yes, definitely, and let me say that one of the most important facts of solving this problem is 2018, namely the non-violent, velvet, popular revolution that took place in Armenia, which literally became a global event, and the diplomatic missions of Armenia should avail themselves of this fact to raise awareness of our country and enhance Armenia’s standing worldwide.
The Armenian revolution of 2018 did not affect a person, a political team or group: it covered a whole country, state and people. It implied the status and potential of a nation and its statehood, and it should be properly presented to the world, this time not as a matter of a temporary press release, but as information characterizing the country. This information, in my deep conviction, is an indispensable way to make Armenia interesting for the world, especially in the modern world, where everyone everywhere talks about the crisis of democracy.
Democracy should become the number one visiting card of Armenia’s foreign policy, and our task is to demonstrate that democracy is irreversible in Armenia, since it does not stem from individuals, not from specific political circles, but from the consciousness and aspirations of our people.
The next principle to empower Armenia as a global subject is the Pan-Armenianism. The most key of our foreign policy difficulties and complexes is the perception of us as a small nation, a small state. Moreover, this handicap often finds expression at all levels of our public opinion from everyday life to foreign policy.
Therefore, overcoming the minority complex is vital for us, and its practical solution, in my opinion, is as follows: the Armenian ambassadors should not be represented as representatives in their accredited countries of a small political group or the ruling elite or even a small state, but as pan-Armenian representatives, representatives all Armenians.”
All the necessary preconditions are up for this today, because the Armenian government has the same level of popular support in Armenia and the Diaspora, and since we agreed that democracy is irreversible in Armenia, and because we have repeatedly stated that our government strives to remove the borders between the Diaspora, Armenia and Artsakh, it seems to be obvious that such a situation must be permanent.
Therefore, the logic of the Pan-Armenianism must give new weight to the Republic of Armenia and its word and position. To tackle this problem, Armenia’s diplomatic missions in all countries with Armenian communities must act as a factor uniting all Armenians: our Diaspora-based compatriots should not be labeled as oppositionists or pro-governmental.
To be honest, I have encountered this situation during my meetings with the Armenian communities of different countries as the Prime Minister of Armenia, and this is unacceptable to me. Thus, by raising Armenia’s standing in international arena, it is extremely important that relations between Armenian embassies and diplomatic missions with local Armenian communities undergo significant changes. Relations between a community and the embassy should go beyond the ordinary logic of the everyday and become more and more embedded in a conceptual, ideological logic that seeks to make Armenia’s interests noticed at the global level.
And in this respect, the cooperation between our Foreign Office, the Embassies and the Office of the High Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs is extremely important. I have set forth serious issues for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Office of the High Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs and I expect these issues to be resolved as quickly and efficiently as possible.
In my speech today, I will not elaborate on current, applicable foreign policy issues and agendas. In his speech, the Minister of Foreign Affairs spoke in detail about them.
Nevertheless, I consider it necessary to address the most important issue for us: the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, with the following logic:
I would like to make it clear that I am deeply embittered by the fact that as Prime Minister, I have inherited the negotiation process for the settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict and the international perception of the Karabakh issue, in general.
Last year I had the opportunity to say at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and now I find it expedient to repeat that we sometimes lose the thread of the logical origins of the Karabakh conflict, its causes, its legal and political nuances not only in the international arena, but even for ourselves. And this is often the case when discussing the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on various international platforms, including the OSCE Minsk Group.
In this sense, I deem it important to constantly update the baseline information on the origin, the root causes, and the general context of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, because often guided by the assumption that the international community is sufficiently informed about the Karabakh issue, we do not take into account the fact that officials and even institutions have changed over time, and even the most evident truths may come to be forgotten, misinterpreted or even misused. And we must pay particular attention to this issue and be consistent in presenting and publicizing the nuances of the conflict.
After being elected to the post of Prime Minister, I was surprised to see how deeply rooted the belief that the Karabakh conflict was similar to the conflicts in Abkhazia, South Ossetia and even Transnistria. This is actually a serious issue for us in both international and regional terms. And it is extremely important to reveal the huge difference between these issues. I happened to make sure of its effectiveness in a few specific cases.
If we clearly state that, for example, the residents of South Ossetia, Abkhazia can freely visit the Georgian capital Tbilisi and sell their products over there, then return to Abkhazia or South Ossetia, while Russian citizens may be repatriated from Baku Airport just because they have an Armenian family name, we can give a more complete picture of the essence of the Karabakh issue than even a few hours of lectures. This example alone shows why and how the status quo was formed in Karabakh: I mean the mere statement of the Baku airport incident. It also shows what could have been an alternative to that status quo.
This is just one example: we can also cite other examples of how foreigners ignore the fact that that originally there were three parties in the Nagorno-Karabakh negotiations, and this is, in fact, the only internationally recognized negotiating format. People have forgotten that the Nagorno-Karabakh Autonomous Region withdrew from Soviet Azerbaijan just as Azerbaijan itself broke off the Soviet Union, and now no one considers it strange. If the President of Azerbaijan can afford making uncompromising and aggressive statements, there is nothing strange in that such statements can be voiced in Armenia as well, and so on.
Dear attendees, summarizing the public part of my speech, I would also like to emphasize one or two general points.
During and after the revolution of 2018, I repeatedly stated that there would be no reversals and U-turns in Armenia’s foreign policy, and it proved to be the case as we inherited the geopolitical aspect of international recognition of the Armenian Genocide, and the peaceful resolution of the Karabakh issue. But this does not mean at all that nothing has changed in Armenia’s foreign policy. In fact, much has changed in Armenia’s foreign policy, and the key to these changes is the substitution of the old practice of maneuvers with a policy of having a clear position and consistently defending that position. This does not mean, of course, that our government has abandoned the toolkit of maneuverability and flexibility. It is impossible and unreasonable.
But maneuvering without a clear position in line with the national interests of one’s own country means reducing the country to the status of a floodplain, while maneuvering in tune with our country’s strategic and reasonable interests would mean to be in the status of a small boat, but to have at least the opportunity to manage our own course and to some extent that of the mainstream. Indeed, this is not an easy task, but it is the path we must take and which is in the national interest of the Republic of Armenia. This is the key issue of our foreign policy that we must solve together.
During the meeting, the Prime Minister dwelt on the diplomatic system’s activities, Homeland-Diaspora cooperation, effective responsiveness to foreign challenges, the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide, the prospects and ways of mapping and shaping the Pan-Armenian potential, activating the economic component in Armenia’s foreign policy, as well as on other issues of topical interest.