The Opening Session of the Conference. Yerevan, Congress Hotel

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Serzh SARGSYAN, President of the Republic of Armenia

WELCOMING ADDRESS TO THE PARTICIPANTS OF THE “REGIONAL SECURITY DYNAMICS IN THE SOUTH CAUCASUS” INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE

Let me greet all the participants and guests of the international conference “Regional Security Dynamics in the South Caucasus”. The importance of the topic of the Conference is verified both regarding the security interests of the regional states and the authority and influence of the present specialists and experts.

The geopolitical processes occurring in the South Caucasus are complex and often difficult to foresee, are under the influence of regional and extra-regional power centers’ interest pooling and competition. This fact creates both additional opportunities and certain challenges for the regional states.

Armenia’s foreign policy is based on the logic of both regional and global actors’ interest pooling, mutually advantageous cooperation with them and mutual respect.

We are sure that the open borders and the implementation of common economic programs can become the best incentive for the mutual understanding and trust environment formation, consequently, for the settlement of political problems. Meanwhile, the policy aimed at creating the separation lines between regional states will inevitably lead to the atmosphere of instability and distrust in the whole South Caucasus.

The critical challenges facing the region are the unresolved conflicts which needs a comprehensive and final solution. Many times we reiterated our solid will that the existing conflicts can be settled only by peaceful negotiations on the basis of fundamental principles of international law. I am confident that the OSCE Minsk Group format is the only acceptable platform for the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

We are deeply convinced that a long lasting peace and stability can be achieved in the region only in case the Nagorno Karabakh population’s physical security and the right to independently decide its fate are guaranteed.

The arms race unleashed by Azerbaijan which is being implemented by numerously exceeding the ceilings set by the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) is a cause for concern regarding the security perspective not only for Armenia and the South Caucasus, but also for the region on a larger scale. Under these conditions Armenia is forced to focus greater attention on modernizing its defense system as a key factor in containing the belligerent ambitions and ensuring stability in the region.

The energy factor also plays an essential role in the geopolitical developments of the South Caucasus. Armenia understands the policy targeted at the diversification of energy supply sources and routes, meanwhile Armenia considers that the new energy projects should not be used to upset the power equilibrium established in the region. Such a policy is not only a threat to the security of separate states in the region but also may seriously endanger the uninterrupted functioning of the transit routes of energy sources. We should not allow the Southern Energy Corridor to become a source for feeding a new war. This meets neither the interests of the regional security, nor those of oil and gas companies.

Nowadays, the interconnection of security and development is already an axiom. In accordance with this position, we initiated the process of Armenian-Turkish rapprochement in 2008 offering as a first step the establishment of diplomatic relations and opening of the border without preconditions.

Armenia today also adheres to the principles that it had declared before initiating this process. And it should be mentioned that for implementing the international legal obligations today relevant political will from Turkey is needed.

Realizing the importance of professional consulting support in making state-level strategic decisions Armenia highly evaluates the significance of conferences with participation of international reputable analysts, as they provide an opportunity to consider the regional issues at an expert level and to propose possible optimal resolutions.

Good luck in the Conference and productive work.