YEREVAN (RFE/RL) — Senior Armenian and Israeli diplomats discussed the sometimes uneasy relationship between their countries during two days of consultations that ended in Yerevan on Tuesday.
The Armenian Foreign Ministry said the two negotiating teams were headed by Deputy Foreign Minister Arman Kirakossian and Pinchas Avivi, a high-level Israeli Foreign Ministry official coordinating ties with Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union.
“During the consultations the two sides discussed issues related to Armenia-Israel cooperation, developments taking place in the Middle East and South Caucasus regions as well as other issues of mutual interest,” read a ministry statement. It gave no details of those discussions.
Although the statement described the talks as “regular,” they are understood to be connected with Kirakossian’s July 25 phone conversation with Israel’s Deputy Foreign Ministry Danny Ayalon.
The Israeli Foreign Ministry said that Ayalon “thanked Kirakossian for the friendly relationship and mentioned the historical ties and cultural similarities between the two nations.”
“Ayalon emphasized the importance Israel attaches to the continuous development of diplomatic relations and practical cooperation with Armenia,” the ministry said in a statement. “He further stated that it would be his pleasure to visit Yerevan, and invited Kirakossian to visit Israel.”
Ayalon also “reiterated the special sensitivity we, as Jews, feel regarding the Armenian tragedy,” the statement added in reference to the Armenian Genocide. Successive Israeli governments have resisted calls to recognize the Armenian Genocide. Support for such recognition appears to have grown within the Israeli parliamen over the past year, however. Diplomatic sources in Yerevan say that Ayalon phoned his Armenian counterpart to address the Armenian government’s unease over Israel’s growing ties with Azerbaijan, which was communicated to another Israeli diplomat earlier this summer.
One source said that Ayalon denied reports that quoted him as saying in May that Israel will not recognize the Armenian Genocide because of Azerbaijan’s importance for his country.
Avivi, who served as Israel’s ambassador to Turkey from 2003-2007, and other Israeli diplomats accompanying him visited Tsitsernakabert memorial on Tuesday.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman held up the Azerbaijani-Israeli ties as a model for cooperation between the Jewish state and a Muslim nation when he visited Baku in February 2010. He also reportedly voiced support for Azerbaijan’s “territorial integrity.” In what may have been an attempt to soothe Yerevan, Ayalon contradicted those remarks in his phone call with Kirakossian.