Yerevan seeks support from Vatican, Russia and Georgia
Armenian president seeks Pope's intervention in dispute with Azeris over Nagorno Karabakh. Dialogue with Putin to implement the peace agreements made a year ago with Azerbaijan. Possible Georgian mediation in relations between Armenia and Turkey.
Moscow (AsiaNews) - Armenia's President Sarkisyan has met the Holy Father for the first time. On October 11, during his visit to the Vatican, Sarkisyan appealed to Pope Francis to intervene in the dispute over Nagorno Karabakh, marked a year ago by a bloody conflict between Yerevan and Azerbaijan.
The Armenian head of state has said this is "a human rights issue, which calls for the satisfaction of the right of the Armenian people to live and build their civilization in their ancient Christian territory, recognizing their inalienable right to self-determination."
Sarkisyan expressed the gratitude of Armenians "because in times of difficult challenges for Armenia, the Vatican has been able to extend its hand in solidarity." He recalled the messages of appeasement that the pope addressed in the days of the conflict with the Azeris and also later, with appeals for the release of Armenian prisoners of war. The Holy See commented on the meeting highlighting "dialogue on international and regional political issues."
Sarkisyan's visit to Italy had begun on October 5. The Armenian president met his Italian counterpart Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Mario Draghi, then the presidents of the Chamber and Senate and other authorities.
He then travelled to the island of San Lazzaro, just off Venice, he then took part in the award ceremony of the "Aurora" prize. For centuriesVenice has been a special place for Armenian history and culture; the award is considered a sort of "Nobel for humanity" and was assigned in memory of the survivors of the Armenian genocide.
In the same days, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pašinyan agreed with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the implementation of peace agreements with Azerbaijan, according to a step-by-step plan that runs from November 9 to January 11.
Next month marks the one-year anniversary of the start of talks between Baku and Yerevan, but so far the two sides have been unable to agree on either the release of prisoners or the unblocking of transportation in Nagorno Karabakh. The return of refugees to their homes in the region, under the control of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, must also be allowed.
Putin and Pašinyan discussed in general the prospects for development in the stability of the entire Caucasus region, reviving Armenian-Russian economic and political relations.
This was the first official round of talks between the two since Pašinyan's re-election three months ago. In recent days, the katolikos (patriarch) of the Armenian Apostolic Church, Karekin II, also went to Moscow to discuss with the Orthodox Patriarch of Moscow Kirill a possible new "three-way" meeting between spiritual leaders. It is expected to be joined by the Grand Mufti of Azerbaijan and the Caucasus, Şeyxülislam Hacı Allahşükür Paşazadə, who was previously contacted by Karekin.
The October 9 meeting in Yerevan between Pašinyan and Georgian Prime Minister Iraklij Garibašvili should also be noted as part of the frenetic diplomatic activity of the Armenian leadership. No conclusive information or communiqués were released by either side.
The Armenian government website notes that the two heads of government "discussed the prospects for cooperation between Armenia and Georgia, with an exchange of views on the situation in the Caucasus region, which will be continued in a friendly and constructive dialogue."
Instead the Georgian website specifies that "the plans proposed by the UN for peaceful coexistence in the South Caucasus were discussed, to be expanded to the participation of other interested states."
Various sources report one of the aims of the meeting was the possible Georgian mediation in the very complex relations between Armenia and Turkey. The Turks support Azerbaijani positions for the control of the "Zangezur corridor", a disputed territory between Yerevan and Baku.