After his talks with Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, Heiko Maas was impressed by recent developments in the country:
Armenia has a vibrant history and is currently experiencing another historic watershed. It was with much goodwill that we observed the shifts in Armenian society in the spring. They were captivating images: hundreds of thousands of people came together to demonstrate peacefully and voice their opinion. But it was also impressive to see how responsibly politicians reacted to the hopes of the citizens. This is the right approach.
After large-scale peaceful protests in Yerevan, Armenia’s Prime Minister Serzh Sargsyan resigned in late April. In early May, the leader of the opposition, Nikpol Pashinyan was elected head of government.
Support for reform
Maas confirmed that Germany wants to support Armenia in the reform process which is now underway, for example, to fight corruption, amend electoral law and also promote economic development. Germany is also engaged as a member of the OSCE Minsk Group which is working to find a solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. “The people in both countries have the right to expect political efforts to find a peaceful solution,” the Minister added. The new Ostpolitik which Maas is calling for was also to formulate more attractive proposals for countries such as Armenia. After all, “in many respects Armenians think and feel European”.
This year, the state in Southern Caucasus is celebrating the centenary of the founding of the First Republic. Foreign Minister Maas commented: “In World War One, Armenia experienced horrendous suffering for which Germany also bore some responsibility. We should never forget how valuable it is that our countries have now had excellent diplomatic relations for 26 years. During this time, Germany and Armenia have become friends”.
Germany is supporting Armenia as it moves closer to both the EU as part of the Eastern Partnership and the Closer Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) and to NATO. Germany encourages Armenia and Turkey to continue the reconciliation process which began in 2009 but which has since stalled. Germany supports this process at civil-society level by funding cross-border reconciliation projects. In terms of development cooperation, Germany is the largest bilateral donor alongside the United States.