Sargsyan talks Karabakh, Turkey at London think tank

President in UK for Armenian fundraiser hosted by British Royals

by Emil Sanamyan

Published: Friday February 12, 2010

Armenian president addressed Chatham House audience. Armenian president’s office

President Sargsyan bows to Queen Elizabeth II with Armenia's Ambassador Vahe Gabrielian looking on . Armenian president’s office

Washington - Armenia's President Serge Sargsyan and Catholicos of All Armenians Karekin II attended an unprecedented Armenian fundraising event hosted by Prince Charles at the Windsor Castle on February 10.

Earlier the same day, President Sargsyan was received by Queen Elizabeth II at the Buckingham Palace.

During his London trip, Pres. Sargsyan also attended the opening of Arshile Gorky exhibit at Tate Modern museum, met with British Foreign Minister David Miliband and spoke at Chatham House, a think tank.

West shares responsibility for Caucasus security

Speaking at the Chatham House, formerly known as the Royal Institute of International Affairs, President Sargsyan recalled the predicament Karabakh Armenians faced in the early 1990s.

"Over 20 years ago in Karabakh, a whole people found themselves facing the threat of extermination only because of being Armenian and wanting to live free," the president stressed as he discussed the conflict that is "a vital cause for the Armenian people [and] a problem that has inflicted unspeakable pain and losses to my people."

He noted the importance of finding solutions to the conflict "the implementation of which will not lead to further displacement and ethnic cleansing" and the impossibility of Karabakh's "colonization" by Azerbaijan.

Mr. Sargsyan also pointed to the dangerous military build-up by Azerbaijan and the Western states' share of responsibility for making it happen.

"While spending large sums on purchases of oil, the advanced states, in my opinion, cannot remain indifferent to how their moneys are being spent," the president warned. "Even if not used in a war against Karabakh, the weapons Azerbaijan is stockpiling today will shoot somewhere."

Aliyev invited to would-be Armenia-Turkey border opening

In his Chatham House speech, Pres. Sargsyan noted that he would be formally transmitting the protocols on normalization of relations with Turkey to parliament for ratification. But he also reiterated the position that Armenia would wait for the Turkish parliament to ratify first.

While flying over Turkish territory on his way to the United Kingdom Pres. Sargsyan sent a message to Turkish president Abdullah Gul calling on him to take a "decisive step forward" to normalize relations.

In his response, the Turkish president reiterated his commitment to normalization, but made no specific commitments regarding ratification of the protocols. Turkish leaders have ruled out ratification without what they would judge to be progress over Karabakh.

In London, Pres. Sargsyan said that a successful completion of Armenia-Turkey normalization process would positively contribute to the Karabakh peace process and that he would invite Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev "to a potential opening ceremony of the Armenian-Turkish border."

But "if, as many suspect, it is proven that Turkey's goal is to protract [the process], rather than to normalize relations, we will have to discontinue the process," Pres. Sargsyan concluded.
(See page 17 of the Armenian Reporter's pdf edition for the full text of the remarks.)

Royal family embraces Yerevan preservation

According to the London-based Eurasia House, a think tank led by former Armenian Prime Minister Armen Sarkissian, the Windsor Castle fundraising event was dedicated to preservation and renovation of four historic buildings in Yerevan, a project dubbed "Yerevan my love," as well as an 18th century Dumphries House in Scotland.

"Our goal is to preserve historically significant architectural and cultural heritage and to engender urban development that focuses on community building," Mr. Sarkissian explained in a press release.

Mr. Sarkissian, who has been working closely with Prince Charles and his charities, was the event's initiator.

While there have been no reports about funds pledges at press time, the evening was due to begin with a classical concert featuring Valery Gergiev, general director of Russia's Mariinsky Theatre and principal conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra, Dariga Nazarbayeva, mezzo-soprano and influential political figure in Kazakhstan, Mikhail Simonyan, a New York-based violinist, and the London Philharmonia conducted by Sergey Smbatyan of the National Youth Orchestra of Armenia.

According to the Eurasia House, the "Yerevan My Love" project involves the reconstruction and restoration of four historically and architecturally significant buildings: two of them in Yerevan's Kond district and two in the city center.

Once completed and fully furnished, one of the Kond buildings will be used to house a kindergarten for deaf and mute children and youth from socially deprived families and the other will serve as a center for single mothers with children.

The other two buildings in Yerevan city center will become a school for the study of ethnographic instruments for socially and economically deprived children and youth. The school will be run by master duduk player Jivan Gasparyan.

The reconstructed buildings and the programs housed in them will be put under administration and management of the Armenian Church.

For information about the project connect to Eurasia House online.

 

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