DUBLIN — President Serzh Sarkisian denounced Turkey’s long-running economic blockade of Armenia and accused Ankara of pursuing a “xenophobic policy” towards his nation, as he addressed a summit of the European People’s Party in Dublin late on Thursday. He went on to implicitly accuse Europe of tolerating “manifestations of fascism” in Azerbaijani leaders’ public statements on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
“It is incomprehensible and unacceptable to us, when any manifestations of fascism are being tolerated, when evident hate speech of the President of Azerbaijan, a Council of Europe member State, is pretended to go unnoticed. For the Eastern Partnership to work effectively we should employ straight and honest talk on the issues of reciprocal concern,” said the Armenian president, as quoted by his press service.
He also reminded that Turkey, a member of the EU Customs Union, has not lifted the blockade of Armenia, even though last December the European Union made a decision to provide Armenia with an opportunity to benefit from the enhanced Generalized Scheme of Preferences.
“Nowadays, when humankind gets ready to mark the centennial of the World War I and the horror it unleashed, Turkey continues its policy of denial, attempts to bury the memory of more than one million victims of the Armenian Genocide and disregard demands of a nation that was deprived of its homeland, refuses to repent for what had been done and thus pursues a xenophobic policy that at its roots is aimed at harming Armenia and Armenians,” he said.
Sarkisian also addressed the crisis in Ukraine. “The Ukrainian events are a matter of serious concern to all of us. We regret profoundly that numerous human lives’ losses were registered in Kiev. Under the existing circumstances it is necessary to take all possible measures in order to ease the tension and find reasonable solutions by the means of a dialogue,” the Armenian president said.
Sarkisian did not comment further, avoiding any mention of Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine’s autonomous republic of Crimea that has been strongly condemned by the West.
Sarkisian also reaffirmed his stated commitment to closer partnership with the European Union but implied that it must be “compatible” with Armenia’s forthcoming membership of a Russian-led alliance of ex-Soviet states.
Sarkisian remained careful not to use the term “European integration” as he addressed the summit, he spoke instead of his government’s “policy of complementing and harmonizing interests” of Armenia’s key foreign partners.
“We appreciate the assistance that the European Union and its member States have been backing Armenia in its social-economic and institutional development, strengthening of our government agencies, reform of the public sector, fight against corruption and reduction of poverty,” said Sarkisian. “About two weeks ago the National Security Council of Armenia approved an action plan for cooperation between Armenia and the EU in 2014 and 2015.”
“We are committed to continue our efforts at seeking effective cooperation mechanisms with the EU, which will both reflect the essence of the preceding discussions we had with the EU and are compatible with the other cooperation formats,” he added in a clear reference to the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.