EU-Armenian held meeting with EU-Special Envoy

Caucasus and Turkey was main focus between Armenian Tchoboian and EU-Special Envoy Semneby

Ararat News -Publishing (ANP) – Roni Alasor, 9/10/2008 / Brussels – Hilda Tchoboian, the Chairperson of the European Armenian Federation, held a meeting with EU-Special Envoy, Peter Semneby.

Recent geopolitical unrest in the South Caucasus between Georgia and Russia, situations of Armenian minority in Georgia, the historical-border conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan (Karabagh) and Turkey`s role in Caucasus region was main talk between the Chairperson of the European Armenian Federation, Hilda Tchoboian and EU`s Special Envoy to the South Caucasus, Peter Semneby.

EU-Armenian are sceptical to the Turkey’s propose "Caucasian Platform for Stability and Cooperation". Armenian do believe that Turkey are playing a destabilizing role in the region, as evidenced by its blockade of Armenia and its pro-Azerbaijani bias in the Karabagh conflict.

According European Armenian Federation, both Tchoboian and Semneby reiterated their common interest in eventually seeing the normalization of regional cooperation in South Caucasus, particularly in the wake of the Georgian crisis. The President of the European Armenian Federation, however, informed Mr. Semneby of her organization’s scepticism about Turkey’s proposed "Caucasian Platform for Stability and Cooperation," noting that, until now, Turkey has primarily been a destabilizing factor in the region, as evidenced by its blockade of Armenia and its pro-Azerbaijani bias in the Karabagh conflict.

"In the context of the emergence of a new balance of power in Caucasus, Turkey is seeking assert for itself a role as an intermediary between Europe, Russia and the Caucasian States" stated Hilda Tchoboian. "But it’s hopes are clearly not supported by the facts on the ground – which include recent statements by its Minister of Foreign Affairs stressing Turkey’s intention to make Armenia pay dearly for the opening of the border, in particular, by stopping the international process of Armenian Genocide recognition," she added.

Many observers consider the apparent goodwill displayed recently by Turkey toward Armenia to be driven primarily by the domestic power struggle between Kemalists and Islamists and their competing efforts to assert primacy in guiding their nation’s foreign affairs, not any sincere interest in materially improving relations with Armenia.

With regard to Georgia, the Federation’s President shared with Semneby the urgent concerns voiced by the country’s Armenian minority.

"After their defeat in South Ossetia, we need to be mindful that nationalistic elements of Georgian society and the Georgian power structures could target the ethnic Armenians community as scapegoats" explained Hilda Tchoboian. "Georgia has compelling interest in moving toward a policy of respect for the rights of minorities – especially those of the ethnic Armenians of Javakhk – as per its commitments to the Council of Europe. Trying to build a centralized, unitary state in the 21st century is simply unrealistic for a diverse, multiethnic country such as Georgia" concluded the president of the European Armenian Federation.

The Federation holds that the EU has a vital role to play in implementing confidence building programs in Georgia.

Ethnic Armenians represent the main minority of Georgia (roughly 10% of the whole population), principally located in Tbilisi and in the southern region of Javakhk. Since the fall of USSR, they have endured forced assimilation and discriminatory policies (linguistic, administrative, and religious) as have the other minorities in the country. Perhaps most notably, Armenians Churches are regularly "converted" into Georgian churches. Despite this official and unofficial discrimination, ethnic Armenian in Georgia, are not advancing irredentist claims. They do, however, demand that their collective, democratic, and regional rights are fully respected within the framework of a decentralized, pluralist, and tolerant Georgian state.