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Armepress News Agency Interview with Ambassador Tatoul Markarian on

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  • Armepress News Agency Interview with Ambassador Tatoul Markarian on

    July 18, 2005
    Embassy of the Republic of Armenia
    2225 R Street, NW, Washington, DC, 20008
    Tel: 202-319-1976, x. 348; Fax: 202-319-2982
    Email: [email protected]; Web:

    Armepress News Agency Interview with Ambassador Tatoul Markarian on
    U.S.-Armenian relations

    Q. How would you describe the current status of U.S.-Armenian relations?

    A. Armenia enjoys excellent relations with the United States, which are
    deeply rooted in our shared values and principles. Our task is to further
    enhance the already high level of cooperation and partnership with the
    United States to the mutual benefit of our nations and in order to meet the
    challenges that the international community now faces.

    Since the restoration of its independence in 1991, Armenia has had many
    achievements in building democratic institutions and civil society, a
    representative form of government, and a free-market economy. We appreciate
    greatly the enormous political, moral, and humanitarian support that the
    United States has extended under the Freedom Support Act, and which helped
    Armenia to sustain an independent statehood and implement democratic, legal,
    and economic reforms.

    The many institutionalized meetings and consultations between the
    Governments of our countries, such as U.S.-Armenia Economic Task Force,
    U.S.-Armenia Strategic Dialog, Bilateral Defense Consultations, provide a
    framework for dialog on bilateral political, security, and economic
    cooperation. Bilateral visits play an important role, and this year we have
    already had a visit by the Foreign Minister, and the Prime Minister, the
    Chairman of the Armenian National Assembly, and the Defense Minister will
    visit later this year. U.S.-Armenia Task Force and U.S.-Armenia strategic
    dialog meetings will be conducted in Washington later this year.

    Q. What's the level of economic cooperation between the two countries?

    A. Since 1992, the level and scope of U.S. assistance programs have changed
    from providing humanitarian assistance to mostly focusing on economic
    development and democratic and legal reforms, reflecting the significant
    progress made by Armenia in these areas.

    Armenia's economy is now more efficient, diversified, than those of its
    neighbors. According to Wall Street Journal and the Heritage Foundation,
    Armenia ranks higher in index of economic freedom than any other country in
    Eurasia and most of Eastern Europe.

    Armenia's inclusion as a potential recipient of the Millennium Challenge
    Account funds is a testimony to Armenia's ability to rule justly, promote
    economic freedom, and invest in people. The MCA funds and continued U.S.
    assistance to Armenia will advance the objectives of poverty reduction and
    promotion of economic growth, thus helping to unleash the creative potential
    of the Armenian people. The appropriate Congressional subcommittees have
    already voted to markup assistance to Armenia at the same level in 2006 as
    it was this year. Equally important was maintaining parity in Congressional
    allocation of military assistance to Armenia and Azerbaijan. Also, U.S. will
    continue to provide humanitarian assistance to Nagorno Karabakh.

    The United States is among Armenia's top five trading partners, and over the
    last 5 years, the exports of Armenian products to the United States have
    grown significantly. Earlier in 2005, Armenia was granted the Permanent
    Normal Trade Relations regime by the United States. At the same time, the
    level of U.S. investments in Armenia is not high compared with the existing
    potential. Therefore, promotion of trade and investment will be an important

    Most U.S. investment to Armenia went into Armenia's hospitality and IT
    industries, particularly software manufacturing. Most of Armenia's software
    companies are geared towards the U.S. markets. Many hotels in Armenia are
    now operated by Armenian-American investors, and this has helped raise the
    standards and promote competition in this important industry. There are also
    numerous small- and medium-scale Armenian-American entrepreneurs who own
    businesses in Armenia, or engage in export and import operations.

    Nevertheless, the prevailing model for U.S. investment in Armenia has been
    foreign direct investments, or personal involvement of the entrepreneur or
    manager. During my meetings many express willingness to take advantage of
    the economic opportunities in Armenia, but the main limitation is that
    potential investors are unable, due to lack of time or career
    considerations, to move to Armenia to personally run their businesses.
    Therefore, in order to attract more American investment to Armenia, there is
    a need for new mechanisms, vehicles such as venture capital funds,
    investment companies, etc.

    Q. What's the role of the Armenian-American community in our bilateral

    A. The Armenian-American community is at the forefront of our relations,
    promoting bilateral trade and scientific cooperation, as well as cultural
    and interchurch contacts.

    There are many distinguished Armenian-American individuals and organizations
    that have provided important support to Armenia and Artsakh and continue
    contributing immensely to strengthening the Armenian statehood, as well as
    the development of the Armenian economy. Earlier this month, famous Armenian
    benefactor Kirk Kirkorian's Lincy Foundation announced the new 60 million
    dollar program in Armenia.

    Strengthening the Homeland-Diaspora ties remains a priority for the Armenian
    government, and many institutional and ad hoc measures have been implemented
    in recent years. I am convinced that we are only beginning to reveal the
    synergies and realize this potential, and it is necessary to continue the
    policies of bringing the Homeland and Diaspora even closer. Already today,
    Armenia is home to all Armenians, and every Armenian can make a difference

    Q. How do you see the U.S. role in normalization of Armenian-Turkish

    A. We appreciate the efforts by the United States government to promote
    regional cooperation in South Caucasus, as it will increase the prosperity
    and development in the entire region. The United States remains engaged with
    our neighbor Turkey by continuously urging that country to contribute
    positively to the development of South Caucasus by lifting the blockade on
    and normalizing its relations with Armenia.

    Nevertheless, the continued denial by Turkey of not only the past but also
    the current realities, and, first of all, its refusal to establish normal
    relations with and its blockade of Armenia leaves with no choice but to
    pursue the resolution of all bilateral problems within the international
    framework. In this context, in addition to European countries, the
    recognition of the Armenian Genocide by the United States will make the
    message even stronger and more unanimous that Turkey has to face its
    history. It has the potential to contribute to stimulating the Turkish
    society to discuss this issue in a vigorous and democratic manner.

    Q. Following the events in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan, what is the
    U.S. position on domestic political developments and elections in Armenia?

    A. The United States has been a partner in the process of implementation of
    democratic and economic reforms in Armenia that are now firmly entrenched
    and irrevocable. Our U.S. counterparts are interested that democratic
    reforms in Armenia continue and be accomplished through political dialog.

    As for elections, they present an important value, and in democratic
    transition they are not only the means but often the ends. Meanwhile,
    democracy cannot be advanced by conduct of elections alone. Elections, after
    all, are a reflection of existing state of affairs in socio-economic and
    political structures of the society. In this context, essential preparatory
    work is carried out in Armenia for a sustained period of time to reform the
    political and economic system. At this stage this means addressing key
    issues, such as Constitutional reform, amending the Electoral Code, better
    self-government for Armenia's local communities, etc.

    The recently developing agreement on these issues between the ruling
    coalition and opposition in the parliament, in cooperation with the Council
    of Europe, can serve as an example of how political issues can be resolved
    by democratic means, such as dialog and parliamentary process. And this is
    the way that is most preferred and appreciated by our U.S. counterparts.

    Q. How does U.S.-Armenian security cooperation develop in the context of the
    Global War on Terror?

    A. Immediately in the wake of 9/11, Armenia has joined the international
    anti-terror coalition and offered the use of its airspace and other tangible
    assistance for the U.S.-led anti-terror operations. This also marked the
    beginning of military cooperation between the U.S. and Armenia. It was made
    possible by the waiver of Section 907, while also addressing the concerns of
    Armenia regarding security in the region. The provision of U.S. military
    assistance to Armenia helped the Armenian Armed Forces to establish
    peacekeeping capability and address interoperability issues. The Armenian
    soldiers and officers now serve alongside with their partners within NATO's
    Partnership for Peace program, and in Kosovo, and Armenia's contingent is
    serving in Iraq with many other nations of the coalition. Also important for
    our military cooperation is the State Partnership Program between the Kansas
    National Guard and the Armenian Armed Forces.

    The first phase of our security cooperation is nearing completion, and we
    know better the mutual potential and expectations. Armenia's Defense
    Minister will visit the United States later this year to discuss the current
    level and future prospects for our cooperation.

    Q. The U.S. officials have recently made a number of public statements on
    the future status of Kosovo. How will the Kosovo status talks affect the NK
    peace settlement?

    A. The future of Kosovo has indeed been a subject of very open and public
    discussions lately, with important statements by U.S. government officials.
    No matter to what extent the Administration favors the principle of full
    sovereignty of Kosovo, they find that the final status must be a result of
    negotiation process. We understand the international community is not ready
    to shoulder entire responsibility and suggest a universal solution to all
    those cases or to impose ready-made solutions to Kosovo or other cases.

    However, the international community could have been more vigorous in
    supporting democracy and economic developments in these regions. The
    argument that economic isolation will make conflicting parties more
    malleable or eager to compromise is a wrong stereotype. On the contrary,
    imposed isolation and economic scarcity can contribute to ethnocentrism and
    make a conflicting party less inclined to compromise. It is encouraging that
    the United States and European Union have already worked to promote
    democratic values and economic freedom in Kosovo, which will inevitably
    contribute to a durable and sustainable settlement in whatever final form it

    The people of Karabakh have already pursued the right choices on their own,
    exerting hard effort toward democratic consolidation and economic
    development. The recent parliamentary elections there showed the
    determination to adhere to democratic principles, and this deserves
    encouragement and appreciation of the international community.

    The independence of Kosovo will, of course, have an impact on settlement of
    conflicts in other parts of the world. However, the concerns by some within
    the international community that recognition of Kosovo's sovereignty may set
    a precedent necessitating the same status everywhere are exaggerated since
    each case will be judged on its own merits. After all, there have been
    several examples of application of the right to self-determination, in one
    form or another, both by conflicting parties and by the international
    community to prevent or to settle existing conflicts. In the previous decade
    alone, this right has been exercised, irrespective of the outcome, in the
    cases of East Timor, Northern Ireland, Puerto Rico, Quebec, Southern Sudan,
    Serbia and Montenegro, and elsewhere.

    As far as Nagorno Karabakh is concerned, its distinction from other
    conflicts in Eurasia is readily acknowledged by the international community.
    I am convinced, and it is widely shared, that any solution to the conflict
    will be based on the fact and the right of self-determination of the people
    of Nagorno Karabakh, which is the core and the final settlement must take it
    into account.

    (Released by Armenpress on July 18, 2005)
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