Visit of the Foreign Minister of Armenia – Zohrab Mnatsakanyan

On September 16th 2019, EESC had the privilege and the honour to host Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, the Foreign Minister of Armenia and former Armenian Ambassador to the United Nations between 2014-2018.

The meeting was a great opportunity to discuss how Armenia has been conducting its democracy building process, how it has been ensuring its security through dialogue with neighbouring nations, the European Union and the United States and to stress the noteworthy integration process that has been taking place between Armenia and the Eastern European Countries since the beginning of the new century.

Soon after gaining independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, on the hand Armenia had to confront a deep economic and social crisis, on the other it had to go through a democracy building process. This meant not only creating the necessary institutions for ensuring the respect of civil, political and socio-economic rights, but also actively involving the population in shaping new democracy through political participation, restoring a strong sense of national identity and eliminating corruption in public offices, a legacy of the Soviet Regime.

As Foreign Minister Mnatsakanyan stressed to create a sound democracy it was crucial to create solid bases and institutions to bolster economic and human development and that could make Armenia engaged in international markets. In this sense, since its independence Armenia has been able to set up strong bases to guarantee economic development even though its economy suffered the legacy of the soviet planned economy. Since the half of the 90s the Country has been the protagonist of a remarkable economic growth thanks to its mining and industrial complexes and to its ability to develop a strong service sector.

The economic issues were not the only one challenges that Armenian democracy has had to deal with. The country has been facing significant challenges to its security, especially from Russia, Turkey and Azerbaijan. To guarantee its safety, Foreign Minister Mnatsakanyan claimed, Armenia has been building a strong security architecture. As a pacific nation, Armenia has been building its security architecture and ensuring its economic growth through dialogue and the construction of tense relations both a regional and global level. The Country has been developing solid relations with Georgia, Russia, Iran, European nations, the United States and, even thought past rivalries and tensions, has been conducting a constructive dialogue with Turkey and Azerbaijan. To bolster its integration in international markets and to protect its security Armenia became a member of several international organisations, the Council of Europe, The organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation and it has been developing a constructive relations with NATO, signing a Partnership Action Plans in 2005 and becoming a member of the Partnership for Peace in 1994.

Especially since the beginning of the new century Armenia has been looking at Eastern European Countries with interest. As Foreign Minister Mnatsakanyan claimed, Armenia, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia share many similarities. They suffered the Soviet dictatorship, they had to fight to gain their independence and even if they are, geographically speaking, small nations they were able to build solid democracies and guarantee economic and human development to their people. For Armenia it is important to build tense relations with Eastern European nations. Indeed, through integration Armenia and Eastern European Countries could work together to secure economic development and to bolster their security.

EESC thanks to Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan for his participation and speech that left to all the participants remarkable food for thought. In an historical moment in which military competition and arms races between States are gaining ground again, Foreign Minister Mnatsakanyan’s speech makes us stop and think  about the importance of dialogue and economic integration as means to guarantee national security.