Armenia - Foreign policy

Kocharyan has proposed enhanced cooperation with the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), including further development of traditional relations with Russia. One of his top priorities is to establish better relations with the neighboring states of Iran and Georgia. He has called for greater involvement in regional economic cooperation and for strengthening relations with countries such as the United States and European Union (EU) states, and organizations such as the United Nations (UN).

Kocharyan has been critical of the OSCE-sponsored peace process, stating that it was unlikely to succeed in mediating an end to the NK conflict. Both Armenia and NK reject the OSCE's proposal of broad autonomy for NK as part of Azerbaijan. Instead of talking through mediators, he has emphasized the importance of direct talks with Azerbaijani president Heydar Aliyev. He has encouraged all Armenians to support negotiations that would ensure self-determination for NK, its safe existence within secure borders, and its "permanent geographical ties" with Armenia.

The Kocharyan government has called on Turkey to accept responsibility for the "genocide" of 1.5 million Armenians during World War I as a precondition for improved relations. This stance has prevented an improvement of relations because Turkey refuses to admit that it carried out a genocide. In the fall of 2001 Pope John Paul visited Yerevan, where he provided some help in breaking the stalemate by speaking against the 1915 Turkish massacre of Armenians without using the word "genocide," thus avoiding antagonizing the government of Turkey. In early 2002, although the Armenian and Turkish governments were still not talking openly, relations between the two countries had thawed sufficiently to enable the establishment of a Turkish-Armenian Reconciliation Commission, which served as a precursor to direct negotiations. By June 2002 the two governments were holding secret talks in an undisclosed Central European city. The talks between Etran Tezgor of the Turkish Foreign Ministry and Karen Mirzoyan of the Armenian Foreign Ministry were hailed by Kacharyan, who announced, "We are now in the final stage of finding the ultimate solution to the Karabakh problem."

In line with a campaign proposal, Kocharyan established a government board to establish closer relations with ethnic Armenians living outside its borders—to help with cultural issues and facilitate trade and investment. By establishing closer ties, it is hoped that the diaspora will play a greater role in Armenian foreign policy.

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