Switzerland’s Federal President to visit Armenia

Switzerland’s Federal President Micheline Calmy-Rey, Head of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), will be in Armenia for an official visit from 31 March to 1 April 2011. Her program will include not just official talks but also the ceremonial opening of the Swiss embassy in the capital of Yerevan.

At the invitation of Armenia, Federal President Micheline Calmy-Rey will arrive in the Armenian capital of Yerevan on the evening of 30 March 2011 for the start of her official visit. During her visit she will, amongst other things, hold talks with the Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan, Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan and other high-ranking Armenian officials. These will include the Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian, Parliament Speaker Hovik Abrahamyan and Catholikos Garegin II, Head of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

In Yerevan the Federal President will open the newly established Swiss embassy. Until now Switzerland has maintained its diplomatic presence in Armenia through the Office of the Embassy of Switzerland in Yerevan.

A visit to the second largest city of Gyumri in the north-west of the country is also planned. The Swiss Agency for Cooperation and Development (SDC) runs an education project there focused on the issue of catastrophe prevention.

International Crisis Group to Prepare Three reports on Nagorno Karabakh Conflict

‘Despite increased international interest, including the personal involvement of Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, the prospects of a resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict now seem at its lowest point in years. The failure to secure a “Basic Principles” agreement before the December Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) summit in Astana – the first in a decade – was deeply troubling. Te political deadlock was accompanied by an increase in violence over the summer–fall’ noted the International Crisis group in its annunal report. The whole report is available on the official website of the international organization.
This year the International Crisis Group will prepare several reports on the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. First report will focus on worrying developments on the ground, including the rise in violent incidents, violations of the ceasefire. Crisis Group plans to follow up its briefing on the potential for conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh. Another report will propose ways to decrease tensions and, through incremental steps, move the negotiations process forward.

Speaker of the Croatian Parliament to visit Armenia

Speaker of the Croatian Parliament Luka Bebić’s delegation will arrive on a two-day official visit to Yerevan on March 20.

In Yerevan, Luka Bebić will be hosted by President Serzh Sargsyan, National Assembly Speaker Hovik Abrahamyan.

The Croatian delegation will visit Tsitsernakaberd memorial complex of the Armenian Genocide and Armenian Genocide Museum.

Freedom Square Freed

The Armenian people returned to the Liberty Square after a three-year ban on protests at the Square. At the end of March 17 rally the leaders of the Armenian National Congress with the unanimous support of the rally participants decided to march from the Matenadaran building to the Freedom Square.

After brief negotiations with the police HAK coordinator Levon Zurabyan declared that the public is allowed to enter the square. The exhilarated people run into the square which they were forced to leave 3 years ago. The opposition leaders congratulated everybody on this victory and gave speeches calling the public to be patient and trust HAK and its leader.

Ter-Petrosian said that they stand ready to start dialogue with the government if the latter frees all remaining “political prisoners,” starts an independent investigation into the March 2008 bloodshed and does not ban further opposition rallies in Freedom Square. ‘We have no reason to hurry up or hasten events as we are convinced that the success of the struggle depends solely on our patience, self-confidence, serenity and discipline. It’s the authorities that have to hurry up because a further delay could be fateful both for them and the country’ concluded Levon Ter-Petrosyan.

Release of prisoners will assist Armenia to go forward: OSCE chairman-in-office

‘The right to hold rallies and the right of free expression are essential for the development of any state. I support the efforts of the Armenian government to make legislative reforms’ said Audronius Azubalis, head of the OSCE, at today’s joint press conference with Armenian Foreign Minister.

‘The law on rallies as well as the law on radio and television should be amended. And to ensure stability and democratization in society it’s important to make sure that the events of March 1, 2008 aren’t repeated. The reforms should consider the opinion of all the political groups and the society. The release of the remaining prisoners will further push Armenia forward’ said the chairman-in-office of the OSCE.

OSCE Chairperson-in-Office visits the region

The OSCE Chairperson-in-Office, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Audronius Azubalis arrived to Azerbaijan March 14. The OSCE Chairperson today will hold meeting with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov.

‘During my visit we will discuss a range of issues including stability, security and cooperation issues’ said Azubalis upon arriving in Baku, APA reprots.
Commenting the question on the trilateral meeting of presidents of Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia in Sochi on Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, OSCE Chairperson-in-Office said ‘Among the purposes of my visit are the meetings with the leaders of Azerbaijan and Armenia to learn information on Sochi meeting and to conclude’. After Azerbaijan A. Azubalis visits Georgia and Armenia.

Georgia, Russia to Resume WTO Talks

Negotiators from Georgia and Russia over Moscow’s WTO bid will meet this week in Bern, Nikoloz Vashakidze, the Georgian first deputy foreign minister, said on March 7, informs civil.ge.
‘We have received an official initiative from the Russian side over launch of talks. As you are aware the Georgian side has always been expressing readiness for negotiations and the Georgian delegation will leave for Bern to participate in talks either on March 9 or March 10’ Vashakidze said, but declined to elaborate details of the upcoming talks, saying it would be inappropriate to do so ahead of negotiations.

Russia deploys missile units in South Ossetia and Abkhazia

Georgia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Grigol Vashadze said that Russia adds its tactical-operational missile unit on the territory of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. The Foreign Minister’s statement came on the panel discussion on the Eastern Partnership, held within Bratislava Global Security Forum (GLOBSEC), informs Gruzia-online.

Grigol Vashadze also held a meeting with his counterpart, Slovakia’s Mikuláš Dzurinda and discussed their bilateral relations as well as international relations.

Statement released in Sochi

The presidents of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan released a joint statement on the resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict after the official meeting in Sochi on March 5.
According to Novosti news agency the document states that the three presidents discussed the practical implementation of the trilateral declaration adopted by them during their last round of talks in Astrakhan on Oct. 27 last year.

The sides have agreed to complete a swap of prisoners of war as soon as possible. The joint statement also emphasized the parties’ willingness ‘to solve all disputable matters peacefully and conduct investigation of possible incidents along the cease-fire line under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairman through the assistance of Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office’.

Masis Mayilyan: Azerbaijan’s aggressive rhetoric and provocation increase the tension in the region

‘The desired outcome of the Sochi meeting will be the reinforcement of the agreement on strengthening the atmosphere of trust reached last year in Astrakhan’, former deputy foreign Minister Masis Mayilyan told 1in.am commenting on the trilateral meeting of Russian, Armenian, Azerbaijani presidents in Sochi.

‘Azerbaijan’s aggressive rhetoric and provocation increase the tension in the region and hamper the possibility of developing constructive dialogue. The most realistic development of the negotiation process is to take steps towards strengthening trust and keeping the ceasefire. For doing this the parties must exclude the use of force. I hope that Russian president will stress the importance of these problems’ Mayilyan said.