07, 2009

Joint press conference of the Presidents of Armenia and Cyprus

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President of the Republic of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan:

Ladies and Gentlemen:

We are truly honored to host in Armenia the President of the friendly Republic of Cyprus, my dear colleague Dimitris Christofias. The centuries-long strong friendship of our peoples is the assurance of our today’s advanced relations.

Cyprus is the country which welcomed with open heart and became the second motherland for many Armenians who had found refuge there after the Armenian Genocide perpetrated in the Ottoman Empire. Throughout their history the Armenian and Cypriot peoples suffered different adversities and tragic events. Hardships that we overcame create today a strong basis for the enduring friendship, mutual respect and trust.

We have discussed issues pertaining to the current stage and perspectives of the Armenia-Cyprus relations in a constructive and friendly atmosphere, we also exchanged views on many issues of mutual interest. I am happy to say that on bilateral, as well as international and regional issues our viewpoints concur. Existing centuries-long friendship between Armenia and Cyprus and our historical and cultural ties constitute a solid basis for the development of the relations anchored on mutual respect and trust.

Enhancement of the political dialogue, strengthening of the interparliamentary ties, and exchange of views on international issues are important elements of our partnership. I believe, however, that the level of bilateral economic relations cannot to be considered adequate and it is necessary to undertake steps to invigorated these relations. With this regard, I attach great importance to the activities of the Armenian-Cypriot intergovernmental commission and we have pretty high expectations from its very first meeting.

I also view as important fostering of the contacts between our business communities. Businesses in our two countries should have a better understanding of each other’s investment and trade opportunities. Business promoting structures should provide full and useful information to the businesses. In the context of the Armenia-EU cooperation, the Armenian-Cypriot relations acquire a whole new meaning. Armenia’s involvement in the Eastern Partnership opens new opportunities for our cooperation in different formats.

We have also discussed a number of regional issues. As it is stated in our joint Declaration, Armenia and Cyprus support each other’s approach toward the resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict and the resolution of the Cyprus problem. Each conflict has its distinctive features. At the same time, there is a common approach towards the modalities for their resolution: they must be resolved without use of force, exclusively through peaceful means, through the negotiations based on the principles and norms of international law.
Armenia’s position in the negotiations remains unchanged: the solution to the conflict must include the right of people of Nagorno Karabakh to self-determination, established land corridor linking Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh, and guarantees for non-resumption of military actions. We also spoke about our relations with Turkey. We want to eliminate the last closed border in Europe and build normal relations without preconditions. But we will not allow to use the process of negotiations to mislead the international community.

In conclusion, I would like to express confidence that the forthcoming meetings of the delegation headed by the President of Cyprus will also be efficient and will give a new impetus to the relations between our countries, elevating them to a qualitatively new level.

President of the Republic of Cyprus Demetris Christofias:

Ladies and Gentlemen:

I greet you all and would like to express gratitude to President Sargsyan for this warm and cordial reception we are having today.

We have established excellent relations with President Sargsyan from the moment we first met, and we had a very frank and friendly discussion. I would like to thank the President of Armenia for that friendship and warm hospitality we receive here. Our private meeting, as well as the meeting of the delegations in the extended format, has been conducted in the same cordial atmosphere.

I would like to stress again that these relations are based on the centuries-long friendship of the two peoples, cultural and religious similarities. We share same faith, we have almost identical cultures and I would be remiss if I failed to mention similarities of our destinies: we suffered similar blows - I am not sure to say from the neighbor or from the opponent. Figuratively speaking – we were in the same boat.

As for the Armenians who had gone through the Genocide and whom Cyprus received with open heart, I would like to say that they are first of all citizens of the Republic of Cyprus. And second, not only we received them warmly but they too returned all that warmth in the most creative and constructive way. They live in Cyprus, they create and build in Cyprus and they are rightful citizens of Cyprus.

Mister President, I would like to salute them once again in your presence because being the citizens of Cyprus they didn’t forget and didn’t lose their Armenian identity, and we have been supporting them in that.

As for our bilateral relations, I agree with President Sargsyan that the relations are high-level, very close and friendly. However there are shortcoming in some areas, and it is necessary on work to address them. These are economic and cultural areas which should be paid more attention to.

Mr. President, I believe the Ministries of Tourism, Economy and Trade should be instructed to organized bilateral meetings and discuss all the issues that need addressing. Such experience already exists. It can be organized without delay. I agree with my colleague that the process of preparing agreements must be expedited and they must be signed as soon as possible.

As for the regional and international issues, as President Sargsyan has already said, we speak the same language. I thank the President of Armenia for constant and continuous support provided to us on the Cyprus problem. It also allows the Armenian community of Cyprus to feel free and comfortable.

I have already told Mr. President that Cyprus supports the resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict in the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group.

In my interview with the Armenian TV, I have already mentioned that I welcome President Sargsyan’s efforts directed at the normalization of relations with Turkey. It is very difficult to negotiate with Turkey. I am familiar with that problem. But there is no alternative; progress should be achieved only through peaceful means. It doesn’t mean, however, that Armenia or Cyprus will disregard some principles. As you know, Cyprus was the first country to openly condemn the Armenian Genocide. Some Turks or Turkish Cypriots will discuss this statement of mine and they will say that Mr. Christofias continues to be anti-Turk. I consider Turkish Cypriots to be our people, the citizens of Cyprus, but it does not allow Turkey to spread fire, to make two peoples fight or create conditions that we are having today. The Armenian Genocide is a historical fact, and if today Turkey is ready to recognize the Genocide it will Turkey no harm, it will only benefit Turkey. It will prove that Turkey is ready to admit her mistakes and to listen to her neighbors.

As for the EU European Partnership program, you can be absolutely sure that Cyprus stands by Armenia.

I have already told the President, that Armenia may view Cyprus as her envoy to the EU, her good friend.

I have invited President Sargsyan to conduct a state visit to Cyprus and I am confident that the people and government of Cyprus will give him the equally warm reception. And you will be able to see firsthand everything we have said today about the Armenians of Cyprus.

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