Austrian President Visits Armenia, Discusses Karabagh Issue


YEREVAN (Hetq and Armenpress) — Visiting Austrian President Heinz Fischer this week declared in Yerevan that the Karabagh issue cannot be solved through force and violence.

Fischer made the statement at a joint press conference with Armenian President Serge Sargisian after the two leaders met at the Presidential Palace.

“We see no alternative to the peaceful talks within the scope of the OSCE Minsk Group,” Sargisian said, adding that “Azerbaijan’s recent bellicose statements create tension both at the line of contact between the armed forces of Nagorno Karabagh and Azerbaijan and at the Armenian-Azerbaijani border.”

“The provocations of the past weeks have claimed the lives of servicemen, and the sit- uation remains tense,” the Armenian presi-

dent noted. Sargisian recalled the Los Cabos statement issued by the presidents of the OSCE

Minsk Group co-chairing countries, urging the parties to maintain the ceasefire regime and underlining that the conflict should be settled on the basis of the principles of the Helsinki Final Act, namely non-use of force or the threat of force, the right of peoples to self-determination and territorial integrity.

“We are ready to move forward on the basis of those principles, and the sooner the issue is settled, the better. The rapid resolution of the issue stems from the inter- ests of the peoples of Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh. I think the international

community has had an opportunity to get convinced of this,” the president stated.

“While formally agreeing to the three above-mentioned principles, Azerbaijan actually only accepts one of them – ter- ritorial integrity, rejecting the princi- ples of the right of peoples to self-deter- mination and the peaceful settlement of conflicts,” Sargisian said, emphasizing that the conflict will be solved only when the parties are ready to accept all of the above-mentioned principles.

Fischer accompanied with Armenian Foreign affairs minister Eduard Nalbandian and Yerevan Mayor Taron Margaryan on June 26 visited the Memorial to the Armenian Genocide victims Tsitsernakaberd.

Armenpress reports that he put flow- ers at the memorial and with a minute of silence stood to honor the memory of the victims of the Genocide. Then Fischer visited the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute of National Academy of Science of Armenia where he got acquainted with the documents about the Armenian Genocide. He signed the guest book, “I don’t find words to describe the great human tragedy which happened to the Armenian nation.”

The president of Austria planted a fir tree in the memorial park. Austria is among the countries which have not recognized Armenian Genocide yet but the Armenian community there seeks to achieve recognition of the Genocide. In addition to discussing the Nagorno-Karabagh conflict and the Genocide, the two presidents discussed ways to expand cultural ties. Fischer said that Armenia’s rich history makes

it a natural partner for Austria. “Armenia has more than two millen- nia of history. It was the first country that adopted Christianity as its state religion, which paved the way for the development of Christianity throughout the world” Fischer noted. Fischer also presented his country’s history through the ages, telling them how Vienna was originally a township in the Roman Empire, which later became a major capital.

Sargisian thanked Fischer for the assistance of Austrian government dur- ing 1988 earthquake, as well as for the establishment of Austrian Children’s Hospital and the construction of an Austrian district in Gumri.

“We are also grateful for the launch of development programs under the auspices of Austria, in the context of which the signing of intergovernmental agreement of development pro- grams. Armenia appreciates the sup- port and attention shown towards the Armenian community and Armenian cultural heritage in Austria, including the maintenance of the Mkhitarist Congregation in Vienna,” said the Armenian president.