Updated: 02-Jan-2002 NATO Speeches

7 Dec. 2001


by His Excellency Vartan Oskanian
Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia

Secretary General
Distinguished Colleagues
Ladies and Gentlemen,

This Ministerial meeting of the Euro Atlantic Partnership Council begins just as the Organization for Security and Cooperation ended its own Ministerial Council meeting in Bucharest a few days ago. Here, as there, we stand together to reaffirm our commitment to our common values and to a collective response to security challenges in the face of the terror of September 11.

We acknowledge that those events in New York were an attack on us all and fundamentally transformed the security environment in the Euro-Atlantic area. Just as the end of the Cold War mandated changed relations, the impact of such international terror has brought on its own mandates. Foremost among these, and most gratifying is the true end of Cold War thinking. Coupled with that is the forward movement in NATO-Russia relations. This bodes well for our region, especially, where it will mean less polarization and competition. It further means that the principle of complementarity that Armenia adopted several years ago, and which was met with skepticism, has been vindicated. It is indeed possible to conduct equal relations with all countries that have a political or economic interest in the Caucasus. In the absence of such competition and conflict, regional stability in the Caucasus has a real chance to take root. This is important for a world looking to minimize security concerns and to enhance peace and cooperation at all levels.

It is also and obviously important for Armenians seeking an end to the conflict in Nagorno Karabagh. The intensified efforts of the co-Chairs of the Minsk Group appeared to be producing results in Paris and Key West, during the meetings of the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan. However, backpedaling by Azerbaijan has now put that process on hold. The main impediment to the resolution of the Nagorno Karabagh conflict is Azerbaijan's fixation on the notion of autonomy or self-rule. Nagorno Karabagh's autonomous status during the Soviet period was exclusively Stalin's creation as part of his divide and rule policy. That status has no historical precedence. In fact, Nagorno Karabagh has never been part of independent Azerbaijan.

Mr. Chairman,
The events of September 11 reaffirmed the importance of a political link between NATO and Partner countries, increased reciprocal understanding and trust, underscored the importance of the abolition of dividing lines, and opened new opportunities for cooperation in the resolution of common security problems.

The Southern Caucasus is the border of a common European security space. It is a bridge between Europe and Middle East, West and East, Christianity and Islam. The Southern Caucasian states are at the forefront of containing the spread of international terrorism. That is why, with the changes in Section 907 of the Freedom Support Act of the United States, we anticipate military assistance which can allow us to deepen our cooperation with EAPC partners. At the same time, our expanded participation in activities organized within the PfP program means that in 2003, military exercises will be hosted by Armenia. We would like to thank NATO leadership for accepting Armenia's offer.

This follows on the heels of an EAPC Seminar, hosted by Armenia in November, on the "Impact of Economic Difficulties on Security in Transition Societies." Other seminars on international terrorism, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, trafficking of small arms and light weapons, humanitarian mine action and emergency planning have been proposed, keeping in mind the importance of those issues for states in this region.

Armenia believes in EAPC as an indivisible part of the European security architecture, which takes into account and complements the activities of other international institutions. We welcome the EAPC's role, especially these days, as a forum for the exchange of experience in Euro-Atlantic security and cooperation. For Armenia, participation in EAPC provides opportunities for the promotion of regional cooperation and the strengthening of mutual trust among states.

The principle of engagement and the expanding framework of activities undertaken by Individual Partnership Programs allow the Partner States to fully and effectively implement the purposes of Partnership. Armenia's implementation of the 2000-2001 Individual Partnership Program is evidence that Armenia's participation in the activities organized within the Partnership for Peace program and by various EAPC working groups has increased. Among them is the EAPC open-ended ad-hoc Working Group on the Caucasus which has identified defense economics, civil emergency planning, security-related science and environmental cooperation, and information and public relations as areas to develop practical regional cooperation. We strongly believe in the idea of security through cooperation and in the role of the EAPC in the improvement of relations in the region specifically through enhanced confidence-building measures.

Mr. Chairman,

After the September 11 events when it became obvious that the whole Euro-Atlantic region is facing the threat of a common enemy, a unique opportunity arose in the Euro-Atlantic area, for the strengthening of the Partnership for Peace. It is now up to us to take up this new challenge and opportunity in the spirit of constant engagement and cooperation. Immediately after the September 11 attacks, Armenia stated its commitment to join the international coalition combating international terrorism and its willingness to provide its air corridor and facilities to the anti-terrorist coalition. But Armenia is committed to doing more. Armenia stands ready to do what it can towards the eradication of disagreements, contradictions, polarization, competition, animosities and misunderstandings in order to remove the roots of terror as well. The EAPC is a valuable forum for that noble purpose.

Thank you.

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