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Van Der Linden: "Don't Use The Past As A Blockade For The Future"

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  • Van Der Linden: "Don't Use The Past As A Blockade For The Future"


    (The exclusive interview of the President of Parliamentary Assembly of
    the Council of Europe (PACE), Rene van der Linden, to Armenian
    Mediamax news agency, April 2006)

    - What are your expectations from the parliamentary elections to be
    held in Armenia next year?

    - Our Rapporteurs will visit Armenia this year and they will prepare a
    report. I expect that we will have a debate in the Parliamentary
    Assembly on this report next January. And then we will see what's the
    situation, what has been done, what are the shortcomings, and we will
    urge the Armenian government to take their commitments and implement

    - Despite numerous efforts and funding provided by the international
    community for the development of the regional cooperation in the South
    Caucasus, little has been achieved. Do you think such cooperation is
    possible before the resolution of existing conflicts?

    - It remains always difficult to solve conflicts. But when I visited
    the region it was clear that on both sides there was desire to settle
    the Nagorno Karabakh conflict.

    I am sure that in terms of young people it's necessary to solve this
    problem. To my mind there are a lot of people outside Armenia who are
    pushing the Armenian government and the opposition in a certain
    way. And it's my conviction that the future for the young people in
    Armenia is much more important than the feelings of Armenians outside
    Armenia. And for that reason, it's necessary to solve this problem and
    we will do our utmost in creating conditions, the right
    environment. It must be helpful in creating a climate of peaceful

    - Do you still believe that it is possible to resolve the Nagorno
    Karabakh conflict in 2006?

    - I would hope so. The international community is willing to help, but
    it is difficult to solve problems if the political will
    lacks. Especially it's also important that political parties,
    government, opposition create climate in the whole country, in both
    countries, which makes it possible for the people to accept the
    solution. If you are exploiting the situation for your own electoral
    advantage and if you are using this to try to get more votes in your
    own country, you can't solve this problem. You also need a climate
    which makes it possible also for all recipients to accept the final
    agreement on this conflict.

    - What do you think about the possibility of a new war between
    Azerbaijan and Armenia?

    - If that could be possible, it's impossible to have members of the
    CoE which try to solve conflicts by using military force. In this
    case, we have to discuss the membership of the countries in the
    Council of Europe. It's really unacceptable that any member of the CoE
    shows that it's trying to use military force to solve a conflict
    between two members of the Council of Europe.

    - What's your opinion about bellicose statements frequently made by
    Azerbaijani officials?

    - They have to be aware that if they finally use military force, to my
    mind, it's over - the membership in CoE is over. They have to
    decide. But I am sure nobody will accept this way of behavior.

    - Energy security is becoming an important issue on the international
    agenda. Can the Council of Europe play some role in it, especially
    when it concerns relations of Russia and post-Soviet states?

    - Of course, energy is one of the key issues for each economy. And
    there are a lot of members of the Council of Europe, who are highly
    dependent of imported energy from other countries. We are now thinking
    in the CoE, how to deal with the situation. We are not an economic
    organization and we don't deal with economic issues. But as far as
    energy could be an issue in the frame of stability, peace and
    prosperity, it could be an element of political settlement.

    - The closed border between Armenia and Turkey remains one of the most
    difficult issues in the region. Don't you think the Council of Europe
    could play some role to help improve the Turkish-Armenian relations?

    - The fact that both countries are members of the Council of Europe
    creates an opportunity that members of Armenian and Turkish
    parliaments can meet each other, come together and address the
    problems from both sides. To my mind, if you live in a region and you
    don't have real open contacts, trade-economic relations, personal,
    cultural relations, tourism, then you don't serve your country for the
    future. It's impossible to build a sustainable future in the region
    where you are isolated from your neighbors. So, I am sure, I said this
    also when I was in Armenia, that it's in the great interest of Armenia
    to look forward and not to use the past as a blockade for the future,
    and to try to find peaceful solutions.

    Of course, if you want to find a solution, you will find it. But you
    can never find a solution that gives you 100%. There is always a
    compromise. The other side also has its arguments, and if you stick to
    your arguments, to your feelings only, and you don't try to find a
    solution and take into account also the other's position, it will be
    very difficult to find a sustainable, peaceful solution, necessary to
    build a prosperous future.

    - Armenian officials have repeatedly expressed readiness to establish
    relations and open the border with Turkey without any preconditions.

    - Yes, but you know this problem has two sides. You know that if you
    want to have an open border you must be sure that you have also
    created conditions for open, transparent relations, also human and
    personal relations, because trade and economic relations are based on
    relations between human beings.