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Sarkisian Defends Customs Union Decision

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  • Sarkisian Defends Customs Union Decision

    Thursday, January 30th, 2014

    Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian (right) and Czech President Milos
    Zeman in Prague, Czech Republic. Jan. 30, 2014.

    Czech President Milos Zeman Recognizes Armenian Genocide

    PRAGUE--President Serzh Sarkisian, during an official visit to Prague
    Thursday, defended Armenia's efforts to quickly expedite Armenia's
    membership into the Customs Union, but pledges his country's commitment
    to cooperation with Europe.

    Speaking at a press conference with his Czech counterpart Milos
    Zeman, Sarkisian said: "If we decided to join the Customs Union,
    then we must do that as quickly as possible. Why should we slow down?"

    "If our decision is based on our national interests," Sarkisian said
    "then it must be put into practice as soon as possible."

    Sarkisian dismissed a suggestion from an RFE/RL reporter that Armenia
    should not have joined the Customs Union, since Russia continues to
    supply arms to Azerbaijan.

    "I want to remind you that the Customs Union is a primarily economic,
    rather than military, structure," he said. "And it is wrong to call
    into question Russian-Armenian strategic cooperation."

    "True, the Russian side is cooperating with Azerbaijan as well, but
    that doesn't mean that we have the right and capacity to block that
    cooperation," he added.

    Sarkisian also added that the Russian-Armenian security pact has
    contributed to Armenia's ability to ward off Azeri incursions and
    attacks at the border.

    The Armenian leader stressed that cooperation with Europe remained
    a priority for Armenian foreign policy.

    "It was here five years ago that Armenia assumed the commitment
    to develop deeper cooperation with the European Union, which we
    reiterated at the Vilnius Summit in November," said Sarkisian at the
    press conference.

    "We are resolute to continue to develop and expand our relations with
    the European Union and anticipate comprehensive support from friendly
    countries, including the Czech Republic," said Sarkisian.

    He also hailed the Czech Republic's constructive position on the
    resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, saying that "prospects
    for a conflict resolution do not seem realistic, unless Azerbaijan
    stops its bellicose propaganda, arms race and the vicious policy of
    provocations at the 'Line of Contact.'"

    "It's time for Azerbaijan to adopt a constructive policy towards the
    resolution of the issue exceptionally in a peaceful way. Here we expect
    unbiased support from the international community," said Sarkisian.

    Czech President Recognizes Genocide In his remarks during the press
    conference, Zelman referred to the events of 1915 as genocide,
    acknowledging the upcoming centennial in 2015.

    "Next year marks the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. In
    1915 1.5 million Armenians were killed," said Zelman.

    In response to a question from a Hailour reporter about Turkey's
    membership in the European Union, Sarkisian said that the decision to
    admit Turkey in the Union is a decision that European Union members
    can make, adding however, that Armenia would like to have a democratic
    state as its neighbor.

    "For Armenia, Turkey's membership in the European Union, first and
    foremost means the opening of the border," said Sarkisian, whose
    administration signed the dangerous Turkey-Armenia protocols, which
    Turkey is not ratifying by pre-conditioning a pro-Azeri resolution
    to the Karabakh conflict.

    "Of course, it would be much easier for us to deal with a democratic
    state. Becoming a member of the European Union means exactly that,"
    added Sarkisian.