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October 15, 2010


Ditchley Park, UK—Raffi K. Hovannisian, Armenia's first foreign minister and founder of the Armenian Center for National and International Studies is currently in the United Kingdom participating in a Ditchley Foundation conference on “The EU and Russia's shared neighbourhood.”  Attended by leading policymakers and analysts from the Russian Federation, the European Union, the United States and beyond, the conference is being chaired by Sir Rodric Brathwaite, Her Majesty's first ambassador to the independent Republic of Armenia and its neighboring states.

In the plenary session today on Russia, Europe, and the "neighborhood" which was introduced, among others, by Ambassador Peter Semneby and Russian specialist Sergey Karaganov, Raffi Hovannisian took the floor to address the Russian-European relationship and its impact on Armenia and the region in the light of three relevant unsurmounted divides on the Georgia-Russia, Armenia-Turkey, and Iran-Transatlantic axes.  Against this background, he noted the imperative to maintain and deepen Armenian sovereignty and policy diversification based on a truly reciprocal "strategic" relationship between Moscow and Yerevan.

Hovannisian further underscored the need to support Turkish-Armenian normalization, not as "West-friendly" window dressing that often glosses over and shores up the weak legitimacy of the negotiating sides, but as a brave new way to get to true reconciliation through the truth and full closure on the Genocide and Great Armenian Dispossession.  On Mountainous Karabagh and similarly situated others, he articulated the inadmissibility of inventing artificial legal constructs such as "sui generis" to fit political predispositions and to support one nation's sovereignty to the exclusion of others—both the West and Russia have engaged in this selective application of international legal standards—and the long-overdue requirement to recognize the Mountainous Karabagh Republic, the original "sui generis" case.

Finally, Raffi Hovannisian issued the challenge of applying the rule of law both domestically and in international affairs and thus overcoming the long-standing tension, both in Western and Russian policy, between democratic benchmarks and the pursuit of raw geopolitical interests.

The Ditchley conference continues today and tomorrow in the format of smaller working groups that will work out policy prescriptions on the Moscow-Brussels connection; the shared neighborhood and protracted conflicts; and economic and energy issues.

The Armenian Center for National and International Studies (ACNIS) is a leading independent strategic research center located in Yerevan, Armenia.  As an independent, objective institution committed to conducting professional policy research and analysis, ACNIS strives to raise the level of public debate and seeks to broaden public engagement in the public policy process, as well as fostering greater and more inclusive public knowledge. Founded in 1994, ACNIS is the institutional initiative of Raffi K. Hovannisian, Armenia’s first Minister of Foreign Affairs.  Over the past fifteen years, ACNIS has acquired a prominent reputation as a primary source of professional independent research and analysis covering a wide range of national and international policy issues.

For further information on the Center call (37410) 52-87-80 or 27-48-18; fax (37410) 52-48-46; email root@acnis.am or info@acnis.am; or visit www.acnis.am.

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