Exclusive: New Ambassador of Mexico discusses Lachin Corridor, development of ties with Armenia
YEREVAN, MARCH 2, ARMENPRESS. Mexico has said on numerous occasions that the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict must be resolved through peaceful negotiations prioritizing the interests of the peoples, the new Ambassador of Mexico to Armenia Eduardo Villegas Megías told ARMENPRESS in an exclusive interview.
Eduardo Villegas Megías is the non-resident Ambassador of Mexico to Armenia stationed in Moscow, Russia.
The Ambassador is visiting Armenia to present his credentials. During our interview, Ambassador Eduardo Villegas Megías explored the Armenian-Mexican bilateral relations, the Armenian community’s role in Mexico, and discussed the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict and the blockade of the Lachin Corridor which has resulted in an ongoing humanitarian crisis in Artsakh (Nagorno Karabakh). He also reiterated that Mexico is in favor of free movement along Lachin Corridor.
ARMENPRESS: - Mr. Ambassador, please present the agenda of your trip to Armenia. What are your plans?
Ambassador Eduardo Villegas Megías: I am here first of all to present my credentials as newly-appointed ambassador. I have other planned meetings during my visit to Armenia, particularly meetings related to the culture sector, for example I will visit the Komitas Museum-Institute and the Tchaikovsky Music School. Of course, there will be political meetings as well, for example meetings with Members of Parliament. Meetings with Armenian businessmen are also scheduled for discussions on economic matters. This is my first visit and I plan to cover all possible aspects.
ARMENPRESS: How would you describe the Armenia-Mexico relations? Which areas of mutual interest have potential for development? Do you see prospects for enhancing trade-economic partnership?
Ambassador Eduardo Villegas Megías: In terms of bilateral relations, I have to mention that warm and friendly relations have developed between Armenia and Mexico. Over the course of the 30 years [of diplomatic relations], the two countries maintained very friendly relations ever since Armenia gained independence. And I came to Armenia in this capacity to intensify and encourage the development of bilateral relations in all areas, such as educational, economic, political, cultural and others.
Regarding the economic sector, as you know trade turnover between our countries isn’t high and this is associated with various factors. We have a neighbor with whom we cooperate a lot, whom we trade with a lot, I am referring to the United States of America. You in turn have trade relations with your neighbors, for example with Russia and the European Union. Actually, there hadn’t been a big impetus for the development of the relations between the two countries, although undoubtedly there is a big potential. In this regard I talked with an Armenian yesterday who lived in Mexico and is very interested to boost Armenian presence in Mexico, and Mexican presence in Armenia.
ARMENPRESS: You were appointed Ambassador of Mexico to Armenia during a difficult period of time for Armenia. The Lachin corridor – Nagorno Karabakh’s only lifeline – is blocked by Azerbaijan for already 80 days. The blockade has disrupted essential supplies and resulted in a humanitarian crisis in Nagorno Karabakh. Despite international calls to reopen the corridor, and the recent ruling by the International Court of Justice ordering Azerbaijan to open the corridor, Azerbaijan is still keeping the corridor blocked. What is your attitude for this kind of conduct by Azerbaijan? In your opinion, what actions can be taken by the international community, including by Mexico, in order for the corridor to be opened. Do you think it’s time to consider imposing sanctions against Azerbaijan?
Ambassador Eduardo Villegas Megías: We are aware of the Lachin Corridor and the humanitarian crisis facing the people in Nagorno Karabakh. In turn, Mexico expressed its stance on many occasions during international forums. This issue must be resolved through negotiations. Our country truly aspires to peace and supports peace. We believe that the best way is to sit around the negotiating table and find a solution in a civilized manner, and the interests of the peoples must be a priority in the solution. We don’t believe that in this regard sanctions could be effective. In relation to the special military operation in Ukraine many countries tried to impose sanctions against the sides, especially against Russia, but Mexico did not join these sanctions. During international forums Mexico numerously outlined that the issue must not impact the way of life and quality of life of the people of Nagorno Karabakh. We’ve numerously called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to sit around the negotiating table in order to give a solution to this issue, because ultimately it is the people who’d suffer from sanctions. The sanctions against Russia are a vivid example, they actually don’t produce the desired result and only the people suffer.
ARMENPRESS: Just to clarify, is Mexico in favor of uninterrupted functioning of the Lachin Corridor?
Ambassador Eduardo Villegas Megías: Yes, Mexico expressed its stance and is in favor of free movement in Lachin Corridor.
ARMENPRESS: On February 8 the Mexican Senate adopted a document recognizing the Armenian Genocide, citing the need to protect universal human rights. Is the society in Mexico aware of the Armenian Genocide?
Ambassador Eduardo Villegas Megías: Regrettably, right now the Armenian presence in Mexico is very low. Mexico took in many Armenian migrants throughout the course of history. This topic remains among priorities for these people. Overall, the awareness on what had happened in this region is low, though there are certain organizations which raise awareness about this fact. There is the Memory and Tolerance Museum in Mexico City, where the genocides and massacres that happened over the course of the history of mankind are talked about regularly. What happened to the Armenian people in 1915 in Ottoman Turkey is often recalled there. To answer your question, I will repeat that the awareness is actually low but there are active organizations which pay attention to this issue, and one of them is the Senate of Mexico.
ARMENPRESS: As you know, Azerbaijan has been occupying sovereign territories of Armenia since 2021 and 2022 and is refusing to release Armenian PoWs of the 2020 Artsakh war. In your opinion, what can the international community do to make Azerbaijan release the PoWs and pull back its troops from territory of Armenia?
Ambassador Eduardo Villegas Megías: There are multilateral mechanisms, the UN, EU and also Asian platforms which can raise their voice and express themselves within the framework of the Armenian-Azerbaijani conflict in order to ensure free movement in Lachin corridor and for the issues related to the Armenian prisoners of war to receive a concrete solution. All countries should be concerned over the issue of prisoners of war. And during these discussions, Mexico, which isn’t involved in this conflict, will again call on the sides to sit around the negotiating table.
ARMENPRESS: How would you assess the Armenian community’s role in Mexico today? How many Armenians live in Mexico?
Ambassador Eduardo Villegas Megías: There are ethnic Armenian governors, businessmen and cultural figures in Mexico. There are few Armenians in politics, but many in culture. For example, musicians, because I think music has developed a lot in Armenia. Now the estimated size of the Armenian community in Mexico stands at around 3,000 people, with the highest concentration in Mexico City, Cancun and Tijuana.
ARMENPRESS: Mr. Ambassador, does Mexico consider opening an embassy in Armenia?
Ambassador Eduardo Villegas Megías: Like I said, the development of bilateral relations proceeded at a low intensity in the past thirty years. Actually, there are no plans to open an embassy of Mexico in Armenia because at this moment the relations aren’t yet at that level, however this can’t in any way be an obstruction and if we succeed to intensify and develop bilateral relations in the coming years then eventually Mexico could look into the possibility of opening an embassy in Armenia.
Interview by Karen Khachatryan
Cameramen: Hovhannes Mkrtchyan, Hayk Barseghyan
Photos by Hayk Badalyan