Friday, 16 October 2015

Armenian delegation visits U.S.

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By Erik Davtyan

October 16th, the CACI Analyst

Between September 27 and October 1, an Armenian delegation headed by President Serzh Sargsyan paid a five-day working visit to the U.S. The main item on the agenda was the 70th session of the UN General Assembly, and the visit also included meetings with high officials representing different states, the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, representatives of Armenian diaspora, and UN officials. 


On September 27, Armenia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Edward Nalbandyan met his Iranian counterpart Mohammad Javad Zarif and discussed regional issues. After the recent deal on Iran’s nuclear program, new prospects opened for cooperation between the neighboring states and Iranian and Armenian authorities have considerably intensified their bilateral dialogue on a variety of issues. On September 26, Nalbandyan also met with the foreign ministers of Georgia, Estonia, the Republic of Congo and Iraq.

Nalbandyan also met the UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UN ESCAP), Shamshad Akhtar. The parties discussed the economic hardship of land-locked states and areas of possible UN ESCAP-Armenia cooperation. Another important point on Nalbandyan’s agenda was a meeting with a delegation from the American Jewish Committee (AJC), headed by David Harris.

On September 28, President Sargsyan delivered a speech at the UN Summit on peacekeeping operations, presenting Armenia’s contribution to international peacekeeping missions including to KFOR (Kosovo Force) and ISAF (International Security Assistance Force, Afghanistan), and its current participation in Resolute Support Mission (in Afghanistan). Sargsyan also stressed the importance of MINUSMA (Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali) and UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon).

Along with the UN Summit, Sargsyan met with several heads of state and governments. In his meeting with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, the Armenian President emphasized cooperation in the military and parliamentary field, especially the participation of Armenian Armed Forces in the UNIFIL Mission under Italian command. According to recent data, Italy has become Armenia’s second largest trade partner among EU states, which provides new impetus for Italian-Armenian relations. On the same day, Sargsyan met Sweden’s Prime Minister Stefan Löfvén and emphasized Sweden’s unique role in EU-Armenia relations as the co-author (together with Poland) of the Eastern Partnership program. The parties stated that new steps should be taken in order to use the existing potential for bolstering bilateral economic relations. Another important part of the New York agenda was a brief conversation between Sargsyan and U.S. President Barack Obama.

On September 29, Sargsyan highlighted the recent tensions at the Armenian-Azerbaijani border in a meeting with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, who also thanked Armenian authorities for receiving refugees from Northern Iraq and Syria.

The most important event during the visit was the 70th session of the UN General Assembly. During his speech, Sargsyan focused on the Centennial of the Armenian Genocide and the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, stating that the “aggressive policy pursued by Azerbaijan resulted in the absence of any meaningful progress of negotiations for the conflict settlement, and the situation drifts toward increasing tension.” Sargsyan stressed that Azerbaijan has started to use large caliber artillery against the civilian population and warned that if Azerbaijan continues its aggressive policy, “it will not leave Armenia any other choice but to take necessary legal and political-military steps to provide the Republic of Armenia and the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic with the opportunity to develop in security and peace.” The peace regulation process was also discussed at Sargsyan’s meeting with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs James Warlick (U.S.), Pierre Andrieu (France) and Igor Popov (Russia).

On September 30, Sargsyan participated in a reception held by the International Raoul Wallenberg Foundation at the U.S. Congress, which was also attended by Ed Royce, chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Congressmen Adam Schiff, Brad Sherman, Jackie Speier, Robert Dold, Jim Costain-Dave Trott, David Valadao, and Judy Chu. On the same day, Sargsyan met with representatives of the Armenian Assembly of America, the leadership of the Armenian National Committee of America, and U.S. East Coast representatives of the Armenian Revolutionary Federation.

The final item on Sargsyan’s agenda was a speech at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on October 1 and a conversation with Carnegie’s President William Burns.

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