Europeans started to see that Azerbaijan has gone too far - Armenian Ambassador ahead of Belgian FM's visit
BRUSSELS, AUGUST 21, ARMENPRESS. Ambassador of Armenia to Belgium and Head of the Mission of Armenia to the European Union Anna Aghadjanian has lauded the very high-level political dialogue between Armenia and Belgium.
In an interview to ARMENPRESS ahead of the Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib’s visit to Armenia, Ambassador Aghadjanian spoke about the current relations between the two countries and the areas with potential for cooperation.
Lately, Armenia and the region have been under the focus of the EU and its member states, and Belgium’s decision to open an embassy in Armenia attests to that.
“Currently there is a rather high-level political dialogue. The Belgian side has been displaying active interest for us in the recent period,” the Ambassador told ARMENPRESS Brussels correspondent Lilit Gasparyan.
Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib’s visit to Armenia aims at boosting ties, she said.
“The main goal of the visit is to boost relations, further develop political dialogue and identify new areas of cooperation. A delegation of the Belgian chamber of commerce plans to carry out an exploratory visit to Armenia in October. In a sense, Minister Lahbib’s visit will lay the political foundation for trade-economic relations. Now Belgium is very interested in the region. In the past they used to say ‘we are part of the EU stance, we don’t have an individual stance, we are not making statements’. But the opening of an embassy in Armenia is a serious signal, especially given that in the past years they were saying that they don’t have material resources and are forced to shut down embassies. But I have to emphasize that Lahbib played a very serious role in the decision to open an embassy of Belgium in Armenia,” the Armenian Ambassador said.
“I think the decision on opening an embassy is a result of treating the region more seriously and willingness to be involved in processes, a result of understanding that Armenia could be a foothold in the region,” she added.
Noting Belgium’s recognition of the Armenian Genocide not only on the legislative level but also the executive, the Armenian Ambassador said that Belgium had the courage to do so in person of the then-Prime Minister Charles Michel.
“Now we can say the same about the Artsakh conflict. The federal and regional parliaments and the Senate were very active during the war, they adopted serious resolutions, an urgent resolution was adopted regarding the return of prisoners of war. Last year, the friendship group visited Armenia days after the Azerbaijani military invasion into Armenia. Member of Parliament George Dallemagne visited Armenia and Artsakh during the war. There’s been attention for Artsakh at least during my tenure,” the Ambassador added, lauding the Belgian government officials for their willingness to be informed in detail on Artsakh.
A month after the 2020 war ended, the Belgian foreign ministry donated a serious sum of money to the Zinvori Tun (Soldier’s Home) Rehabilitation Center to support the recovery of Armenian war veterans, in what the ambassador commended as a “very beautiful and touching” gesture. Belgian Foreign Minister Hadja Lahbib will visit the Soldier’s Home during her upcoming trip.
Noting the great potential for cooperation in the political and economic areas, Ambassador Aghadjanian said that areas of potential partnership in economy include IT, services, high-tech agriculture, pharmaceuticals and other sectors.
Aghadjanian’s term as Ambassador will end in September.
Asked on the difficulties and challenges during her tenure, she said: “For many years we were viewed as a pro-Russian country, a country depending on Russia. Set aside whether or not this is justified. But this has become a stereotypical viewpoint in the EU, also due to the fact that we did not sign the EU Association Agreement in the last moment. Naturally, this had its reasons, but it’s not up to me to judge. But that was a ‘disaster’ for a European politician thinking within a clearly defined circle, like, ‘look they went to the Russians, they are bad, they are pro-Russian’. However, when we look at our cooperation objectively, it has always been very broad. In some areas we were even ahead of some other countries who are considered to be closer to the EU. But since we’ve never expressed ourselves against Russia, we’ve been perceived as a country depending on Russia. Our serious reforms helped us for the EU to try and break this stereotype of Armenia not having chosen the European path. Some lawmakers who used to criticize us claiming that we were not democratic are today calling for helping Armenia because it is advancing on the path of democracy. This is the most important assessment for me. On the other hand, the fact that our region wasn’t a priority for the EU was a challenge. The approaches changed when the war in Ukraine began, and now our region is more important for the EU. I have to mention that the EU itself is in a difficult condition today. Virtually all financial resources are directed to Ukraine, and if they find some resource for us today, we should appreciate it. We must also appreciate that parallel with the issue of Ukraine, which is of principled importance for the EU, the EU is dealing with our region and conflicts. It’s not up to us to assess whether it’s done good or bad. In the recent weeks, there’s been significant ‘enough is enough’ approach by the Europeans, referring to Azerbaijan having gone too far. Somethings we’ve been saying, but they wouldn’t believe. We were warning that Azerbaijan will start a war, they were telling us not to overreact and exaggerate. Now we’ve come to a point when they are trying to speak in a strict language.”