The three-day event, entitled “Security and Stability in the South Caucasus: Fostering Enduring Regional Peace”, focuses on current and future challenges and cooperation issues. No Azerbaijani delegates are in attendance. Earlier, Turkey had also ruled out its participation, citing recent parliamentary elections as a reason for non-attendance.
An opening speech was delivered by the head of Armenia’s delegation to the Assembly, Koryun Nahapetyan (Republican Party), who emphasized that Armenia hosts the event for the second time. The parliamentarian hailed current level of the Armenia-NATO cooperation which he said is anchored by the "Partnership for Peace" principle.
Stressing the importance of all the topics on the agenda, Nahapetyan said that key issues for Armenia are the cooperation with the Euro-Atlantic community, its mediatory role in the Nagorno Karabakh conflict settlement, establishment of rules of conduct as part of defense reforms in Armenia and NATO partnership in the South Caucasus.
He added that the seminar will also address the situation in the Middle East, challenges posed by the Islamic State and their possible impact on the Armenian Diaspora, as well as energy security issues in the South Caucasus and other regional developments and problems.
Introducing the participants, Nahapetyan noted that the seminar is also attended by parliamentarians from NATO member states and partner countries, as well as members of the Nagorno Karabakh National Assembly, representatives of regional organizations, analytical centers and ambassadors.
President of the Armenian National Assembly Galust Sahakyan later greeted the participants, stressing the importance of security and stability in the South Caucasus. The parliament speaker reiterated Armenia’s position as a champion of freedom and peace. She said that Amrenia believes that the elimination of dividing lines can promote regional cooperation based on mutual interests.
Addressing the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, Sahakyan reaffirmed Armenia’s intention to reach a peaceful solution based on the recognition of the country’s right to self-determination and implementation of norms of the international law.
Commenting on the Armenia-Turkey relations, the speaker restated Yerevan’s repeatedly voiced demand for establishing a dialogue without preconditions.
Paolo Alli, the PA vice president, in turn, said they expect an effective debate at the current meeting. He noted the initiative to conduct the Assembly’s second seminar in Armenia to be a sign of progress and proper cooperation. Alli assured the participants that the alliance’s efforts are targeted at establishing enduring peace in the South Caucasus. He described the forum as a good platform for an open and constructive dialogue.
The NATO official further called for efforts towards promoting a peaceful settlement of regional conflicts. Admitting that they recently observed escalations, the PA vice president reiterated the alliance’s strong opposition to attempts to seek military solutions.
He described Azerbaijan’s failure to attend the meeting as a backward step following the last seminar hosted by the country (to which Armenia had sent participants).Alli told the participants that their discussions will focus on the challenges for Armenia in the short- and long-term perspectives.