Claims for Armenian Genocide restitution, Artsakh, Armenia-EU relations part of agenda of 4th European Armenian Convention

The 4th European Armenian Convention is set to kick off on 18 October in Belgium. Among the participants will be Catholicos Aram I of the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia, Armenia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Edward Nalbandyan, Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan and others. Armenpress sat down for an interview with Communication and Public Relations Representative of the Armenian National Committee of Europe Harut Shirinyan to discuss the details of the Convention, the visit of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs to Armenia and the developments in the region.

Armenpress: The 4th European Armenian Convention will be held on October 18 and 19. How are the preparations going?

Harut Shirinyan: Preparations are underway. We have already received confirmations from the guests who will be delivering their welcoming remarks. Among the participants will be Catholicos Aram I of the Catholicosate of the Great House of Cilicia, Armenia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Edward Nalbandyan, Minister of Diaspora Hranush Hakobyan, high-ranking state officials of the Republic of Artsakh and experts. We also expect to see many Members of the European Parliament at the Convention. I must say that there is already a lot of people representing Armenian unions, societies and associations in Europe and individuals.

Armenpress: What are the items on the agenda? How will this Convention be different from the previous ones?

Harut Shirinyan: The Convention will address four major topics. The first two topics are devoted to the struggle for recognition of the Armenian Genocide and claims for restitution in Europe, the process of moving the struggle to the legal field, the right of the people of Artsakh to self-determination, as well as the lobbying of Turkey and Azerbaijan in Europe and the measures for counterinfluencing them. The third topic is the bilateral relations between Armenia and the European Union. It will be touched upon in the context of the Eastern Partnership Summit to be held in November. The fourth topic is the issue of preservation of the Armenian identity within the Armenian communities across Europe.

Armenpress: What will the Armenian National Committee of Europe emphasize as it continues its efforts for the solution to the Artsakh issue?

Harut Shirinyan: The Artsakh issue is still one of the key priorities of the Armenian National Committee of Europe, and this, in the political sense, entails maintenance of the right of the people of Artsakh to self-determination in the agenda of the OSCE Minsk Group and in the vocabulary of representatives of various institutions of the European Union because, according to international law, this principle has the same force and compulsion as the principle of territorial integrity does. The second issue related to the Artsakh issue is counterinfluence against geopolitical and economic isolation, which is imposed by Azerbaijan on the people of Artsakh. In this context, we will continue to strengthen our diplomatic ties with European MPs by creating opportunities for them to visit Artsakh or by working with parliamentary friendship groups. The consequence of isolation is that the quality of life of the people of Artsakh and economic development are restricted. The Armenian National Committee of Europe raised this issue during the recent OSCE conference devoted to human rights in Warsaw. During that conference, we had meetings with dozens of delegations and showed the film “The Seized”, which is devoted to the Artsakh war.

Armenpress: The Co-Chairs are trying to take steps to revitalize the process of negotiations. What are the expectations? Is it likely to see progress, taking into consideration Azerbaijan’s destructive position?

Harut Shirinyan: In this stage, the most important thing is the implementation of the priorities stated during the meetings held in Vienna and Saint Petersburg. If Azerbaijan continues to violate the ceasefire regime, we can already imagine how difficult the negotiations will be. The situation on the border has to be calm in order to form a positive atmosphere for negotiations. This will be possible in the case of introducing investigative mechanisms on the line of contact. This has to be the direct priority of the Co-Chairs. If Azerbaijan continues to disagree, the Armenian party needs to seriously consider the issue of deploying a mechanism on its part.

Armenpress: Recently, investigative journalists of several foreign presses released information regarding the corruption scandal in Azerbaijan. How did European figures react to this?

Harut Shirinyan: There was a great reaction and it can be greater because the people engaged in this scandal are slowly being revealed. The European Parliament has already strictly condemned the scandal and demanded setting up an examination committee. The European Parliament adopted a special resolution, and this is very good. We believe such initiatives should be undertaken by the parliaments of all countries that suspect the participation of the politicians of the particular country in this scandal. There has to be a relevant sanction against those who received the petrol dollars of Azerbaijan and participated in Azerbaijan’s propaganda and expressed anti-Armenian positions. This is the guarantee of preserving European values.

Armenpress: I would like to ask you to present the position of the Armenian National Committee of Europe on Catalonia’s independence.

Harut Shirinyan: First, I would like to address the use of force during the reference. This is dishonorable for Spain. The violent acts that we witnessed are against European and democratic values and human rights. Every nation and people has the right to express its will freely. This right must be maintained and respected, not taken by violence.

Anna Gziryan

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