YEREVAN — United States Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived in Armenia Monday afternoon for a quick visit as part of her seven-day seven-nation European tour also including the South Caucasus and Turkey.
The short trip was the opening leg of Clinton’s second tour of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia in two years. It involved talks with President Serzh Sarkisian and Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian as well as an address to Armenian civil rights activists.
“We are pleased to see Armenia continue to work to strengthen your democratic institutions, to promote transparency, advance the rights of a free press, root out corruption, respect universal rights and freedoms,” Clinton told a joint news conference with Nalbandian.
Clinton again endorsed official Yerevan’s view that Turkey should stop linking parliamentary ratification of the U.S.-brokered normalization agreements signed with Armenia in 2009 to a resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
“We strongly support ratification of the Turkey-Armenia protocols without preconditions,” she said. “We commend Armenia and President Sarkisian for the leadership they have shown on this issue.”
“As I said when I was here two years ago, the ball remains in Turkey’s court,” stressed the chief U.S. diplomat.
Clinton further made clear that the United States will remain “very actively involved” in international efforts to improve Turkish-Armenian ties and end the Karabakh conflict. “There is no linkage between the protocols process and the Nagorno-Karabakh negotiations as they are separate,” she said. “But we are equally engaged and pushing hard to try to achieve a peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh matter.”