[Updated] Newly Established EU Parliament-Armenia Friendship Group Delegation Visits Armenia

The European Parliament’s EU-Armenia Friendship Group is making its first visit to Armenia this week. The delegation is headed by the President of the group, Dr. Eleni Theocharous (Cyprus) and comprised of  MEPs Frank Engel, Vice-President of the group (Luxembourg), Ewald Stadler (Austria), Kyriakos Triandafyllides (Cyprus),  France-Armenia Parliamentary Friendship Group Vice-President Guy Teissier, France-Armenia Parliamentary Friendship Group member, Valérie Boyer, alongside Louvain University Professor Bernard Coulie. Accompanying the delegation are Ambassador, Head of the Permanent mission of Armenia to EU Avet Adonts and EAFJD President Kaspar Karampetian.

Prior to the delegation’s departure to Armenia, Dr. Eleni Theocharous gave an interview in English, to the Armenian National Committee of Cyprus and spoke about her work at the Stepanakert Children’s Hospital during the years of the Artsakh liberation war, her commitment in advancing Mountainous Karabakh’s (Artsakh) right to self-determination, the development and of the Mountainous Karabakh and its process towards democracy, her being declared as a “persona non grata” by Azerbaijan, the formation of the EU Parliament-Armenia friendship group, the contribution of the EAFJD in this direction and the future plans of the friendship group. To watch the interview click on the links below:

Dr. Eleni Theocharous interview to ANC Cyprus (part 1)

Dr. Eleni Theocharous interview to ANC Cyprus (part 2)

The EU-Armenia Friendship Group in the European Parliament was established on January 9, 2013 and aims at strengthening the relationship between the European Parliament and Armenia.

Members of the European Parliaments EU-Armenia Friendship Group pay visit to the National Assembly of the Republic of Nagorno Karabakh, Artsakh

(http://theeuarmeniafriendshipgroup.com 26/04/2013 – Stepanakert, Nagorno Karabakh) – Members and participants of the European Parliaments EU-Armenia Friendship Group arrived in Nagorno Karabakh this morning and met with the President of the National Assembly H.E. Mr Ashot Ghulyan. After the meeting, members of the group were accompanied by Mr Ghulyan into the chamber of the National Assembly where they had the opportunity to address members of Nagorno Karabakh’s Parliament with official statements.

Dr Eleni Theocharous MEP, President of the EU-Armenia Friendship Group and an individual with a symbolic significance to the region due to her work as a doctor during the the war against Azerbaijan between 1988 and 1994, addressed the parliament and said:

“Everyone in the world has a motherland and a fatherland, some people like me have 2 one is Greece and the other is Artsakh. I would never believe when I came here 25 years ago that I would one day come back here as an MEP and address you, the brave people of Artsakh in your own parliament.”

“Artsakh is a thriving democracy, a state which consists of brave and wonderful people who believe in freedom and have proved this to the rest of the world. The People of Artsakh have proved that every free spirit, every free citizen in the world is a citizen of Stepanakert.”

Dr Theocharous went on to state:

“Artsakh represents a beacon of freedom all founded through blood and sacrifice during the war. The people have carried out their plight for self determination and liberty and have managed to create a system of values based on the same principles which are present in western civilisation. We as members of the European Parliament and Members of European National Parliaments must work together to not allow history to repeat itself and to keep Artsakh free and proud so its people can live in peace and prosperity.”

Valérie Boyer, a French Member of Parliament, also participating in the France-Artsakh circle, joined the EU-Armenia Friendship Group on its first delegation. Addressing the parliament she stated:

“I am not Greek or Armenian but I come from Armenia’s second capital, Marseille. As friends of Armenia it must be our duty to raise the awareness of Artsakh globally. Artsakh is a place based on principles of liberty, democracy and self determination and the world must see how these principles have manifested within society here. We must all work together on all levels, political, social and cultural to promote this cause for Artsakh, for it to receive the justice and recognition it deserves and for its people to continue living freely and happily.”

During their day in Nagorno Karabakh members and participants of the group also met with lecturers and students of Nagorno Karabakh’s state university, visited a state hospital and also went to see two of the regions famous churches, Gandzasar and Shushi before returning back to Yerevan.

Eleni Theocharous was awarded a medal by the State Medical University of Yerevan

(http://www.ysmu.am/en/home/842-elen-teokharos, 25/04/2013) – Yesterday professor Eleni Theocharous, head of the Armenia-European Union friendship group, pediatric surgeon, was awarded a first level medal in the Yerevan State Medical University.

Valerie Boyer, member of National Assembly of France, Artak Zakaryan, the head of the Standing Committee on Foreign Relations of the National Assembly of Armenia, professor Ara Babloyan, head of the Standing Committee on Health Care, Maternity and Childhood of the National Assembly of Armenia, the University lecturers, students and other guests were attending the meeting.

When introducing Eleni Theocharous, professor Babloyan mentioned: “I want to introduce Eleni Theocharous not officially, since she is the friend of the whole Armenian nation. In 1992 when I was the Minister of Health Care, she turned to me through a written letter wishing to visit Nagorno Karabakh. We invited her to Armenia and from here she left to Karabakh where she provided medical aid to children, wounded, helped to equip hospitals,

Dr. Eleni Theocharous with YSMU students

Dr. Eleni Theocharous with YSMU students

and helped a village in poverty. From then on Eleni each year visits Armenia and Karabakh. Today in our hospital there are surgeries done through “Eleni’s method”.

Thanking for the medal, Eleni Theocharous said: “Your University is a well known institution, and it is an honor to get a first level medal here, but let me say that the smiles of women in Nagorno Karabakh, whose children avoided danger, are more precious for me.”

Prime minister Sargsyan meets with the EU-Armenia Friendship Group delegation

(panarmenian.net) – On April 25, Prime Minister Tigran Sargsyan met with the members of the European Parliament-Armenia friendship group, headed by Eleni Theocharous.

Prime Minister Sargsyan welcomed the MPs’ visit to Armenia, voicing confidence that it will contribute to the development of the bilateral ties.

The economic situation in the country, Armenian-Turkish relations and Nagorno Karabakh conflict resolution were further discussed, with Prime Minister Sargsyan expressing Armenia’s readiness to take consistent steps aimed at the peaceful settlement of the problem.

The parties further dwelt on Syrian-Armenian issues, with the MPs voicing readiness to contribute to the assistance programs targeting RA-based Syrian citizens.

President Sargsyan received members of the EU-Armenia Friendship Group from the European Parliament

(source: president.am) President Serzh Sargsyan received members of the EU-Armenia Friendship Group from the European Parliament led by the Head of the Group Eleni Theocharous.

The President of Armenia welcomed the visit of the Group to our country. He noted that considering the existing high level and intensity of the Armenia-EU relations, the creation of the Group was an imperative and necessity. Serzh Sargsyan expressed confidence that activities of the Friendship Group will greatly promote deepening and enhancement of the Armenia-EU relations as well as will allow to raise in the European Parliament issues which concern Armenia.

At the outset, the members of the European Parliament congratulated Serzh Sargsyan on the presidential elections recently held in Armenia and on assuming the post of the President of Armenia. They underscored that as friends of Armenia, they would continue to support Armenia in the European Parliament, other European structures and parliaments of the EP member states, broadcasting Armenia’s democratic achievements, speaking about the huge and invaluable historical and cultural heritage of Armenia and Armenian nation and representing the Armenian system of values.

The parties discussed also development of the Armenia-EU relations, the current agenda and prospects of cooperation with the Friendship Group.

The President of Armenia and members of the European Parliament exchanged views on the regional issues and challenges, the current stage of the NK peace process, Armenia-Turkey relations, the process of international recognition of the Armenian Genocide and other issues of mutual interest.

The President of the Parliament Receives the Members of the EU-Armenia Friendship Group

(L-R) Ambassador, Head of Permanent mission to EU, Avet Adonts, EAFJD President Kaspar Karampetian, Louvain University Professor Bernard Coulie, MP Ara Babloyan, France-Armenia Parliamentary Friendship Group Vice-President Guy Teissier, EU-Armenia Friendship Group in the European Parliament President, Dr. Eleni Theocharous, Armenian Parliament President Hovik Abrahamyan, France-Armenia Parliamentary Friendship Group member, Valérie Boyer, MEP Kyriakos Triandafyllides, MP Samvel Fermanyan, MEP Ewald Stadler.

(source: parliament.am) – On April 25 the RA NA President of Armenia Hovik Abrahamyan received the Head of the EU-Armenia Friendship Group of the European Parliament Eleni Theocharous, members Ewald Stadler and Kyriacos Triantaphyllides, NA deputies of France Valérie Boyer and Gui Tessier, and the Honourable President of the University of Louvain, well-known scholar on Armenian studies Bernard Coulie. The President of the European Armenian Federation for Justice and Democracy (EAFJD), Kaspar Karampetian is accompanying the delegation during its visit to Armenia.

The NA President thanked the European guests for being next to the Armenian people during these days and paying tribute to the memory of the victims of the 1915 Armenian Genocide in Tsitsernakaberd. “With that, you reiterate your commitment to high universal human values and support to Armenia’s efforts towards achieving a full international recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide,” Abrahamyan said. The member of the Friendship Group Ewald Stadler noticed that Europe had a moral obligation towards Armenian people not only in Armenia, but also in Nagorno Karabakh. Kyriacos Triantaphyllides also noted that Europe should express solidarity by fighting for Armenia’s Genocide recognition and assist in the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and the lifting of blockade by Turkey and Azerbaijan. The Cypriot MP said they knew by Cyprus’s example how difficult it was to persuade Turkey to confront its past. In Valérie Boyer’s opinion, we should make audible the facts of violation of human rights in the past, as well as now in Nagorno Karabakh and make the rich history and culture of Armenia and Artsakh accessible to the world.

The development of relations between Armenia and European Union, the new format of cooperation and perspectives was on the agenda of the meeting. Hovik Abrahamyan expressed conviction that the Parliamentary Friendship Group functioning in the European Parliament from January 9 would give new quality to the cooperation, making it more effective. According to the Head of the Parliament, the past three years’ dynamics of the development of relations witnesses good preconditions of cooperation between the legislative and executive bodies. The NA President expressed willingness to support all the initiatives and formats of cooperation by the Group. The Head of the Friendship Group Eleni Theocharous noted the necessity of deeper cooperation between the European Parliament and the Armenian Parliament, which would give the EU bigger opportunity to back Armenia and Armenian people.

In the course of the meeting the sides discussed the procedure of the implementation of the Armenia-EU Association Agreement, particularly its final round, and the issue of the EU visa facilitation. Hovik Abrahamyan conveyed the readiness of the parliament to ratify the Association Agreement and take further measures to bring Armenia’s legislation in compliance with the European standards.

The NA President presented to the MEPs the authorities’ positions on the Karabakh problem and the Armenian-Turkish protocols. He reiterated Armenia’s commitment to settle the problem based on the format proposed by the OSCE Minsk Group and the three principles: nations’ self-determination, territorial integrity, and non-use of force.

During the meeting other issues of bilateral interest were discussed.

Dr. Eleni Theocharous the President of the group stated:

“We will continue to raise the awareness of Armenia within Europe. We will support all the efforts and desires of Armenia and are ready to collaborate with the Armenian National Assembly. We will do our very best to promote an present to the people of Europe the heritage, the rich culture, the history and the principles of Armenia and its people.”

Kyriacos Triantaphyllides a member of the group went on to state:

“I believe nations such as the Armenian nation need our love and support, I am in particular very passionate about two issues, the issue of Nagorno Karabakh and the issue of Armenia-Turkey relations and the status of genocide recognition. Moreover I support Armenia, its desires and its future efforts in establishing deeper cooperation with the EU.”

Armenian Parliamentarians Meet the Members of the EU-Armenia Friendship Group of the European Parliament

(source: parliament.am) – On April 25 the members of the Committees of Parliamentary Cooperation of the RA NA Euronest and Armenia-European Union met with the members of the EU-Armenia Friendship Group of the European Parliament. Among the members of the Armenian delegation was also ARF-D Bureau member and MP, Vahan Hovhannesyan.

Welcoming the guests the Chairman of the NA Standing Committee on Foreign Relations Artak Zakaryan deemed important the first visit of the Friendship Group to the Armenian Parliament and expressed hope that in the near future such meetings would be held frequently.

In the course of the meeting both sides highlighted the deepening of Armenia-EU relations, the integration process and especially stressed the importance of signing of the Association Agreement for Armenia, as well as the establishment of the Comprehensive Free Trade Area.

The sides considered important the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh problem, the continuation of the negotiations, and the solution of the issue through military means was deemed inadmissible. The members of the European Parliament emphasized the deepening of democratic reforms in the Nagorno Karabakh, which would promote the peaceful settlement of the problem. In that context the strengthening of democracy in the South Caucasus was also highlighted.

The attendees deemed important the participation of the representatives of the NGOs and civil societies of the Nagorno Karabakh in the programmes of the reinforcement of civil society being implemented within the framework of Euronest.

In the meeting both sides also touched upon the democratic reforms and deepening of democracy in Armenia. In this context the guests highlighted the holding of free and fair elections, underlining that there were things to be done in that direction. The European colleagues expressed readiness to back the implementation of those reforms.

At the end of the meeting in the name of the Armenian MPs Artak Zakaryan expressed willingness to develop and deepen the bilateral relations.

President Bako Sahakyan met the European Parliament’s EU-Armenia Parliamentary Friendship Group representatives

Mountainous Karabakh President, Bako Sahakyan and EU Parliament-Armenia friendship group President, Dr. Eleni Theocharous

(source: president.nkr.am) – On 24 April President of the Artsakh Republic Bako Sahakyan met in the NKR permanent representation in Armenia the European Parliament’s EU-Armenia Parliamentary Friendship Group representatives.
A number of issues related to Europe-Artsakh relationships, the Azerbaijani-Karabagh conflict settlement and regional processes were discussed during the meeting.
President Bako Sahakyan noted that the development of relationship with Europe is one of the significant directions of the Artsakh foreign policy, and within this context rated high the establishment and deepening ties with various European institutions, including that of the European Parliament. Both sides mentioned the existence of a large domain of possibilities for cooperation and the necessity for carrying out purposeful work in this direction.
NKR minister of foreign affairs Karen Mirzoyan, head of the Central Information Department of the Artsakh Republic President’s Office David Babayan, NKR permanent representative to the Republic of Armenia Karlen Avetisyan and other officials partook at the meeting.

Visit to the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin and Meeting with Catholicos Karekin II

(source: armenianchurch.org) – On April 25, the delegation headed to Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin where they held a meeting with Catholicos Karekin II. The Catholicos stressed the importance of the friendship group’s establishment and praised the efforts of the group’s members in defending the rights of the Armenian people and in advancing the process of Armenia’s membership to the European Union. The Catholicos also thanked all the organizations, states and individuals that have contributed in the recognition and convinction of the Armenian Genocide. He underlined that a universal recognition of the Armenian Genocide functions as an obstacle to any similar, future attempts against mankind. In the end, the Catholicos wished success to the mission of the Friendship Group noting that although the group aims at the strengthening of the ties between the EU and Armenia, and at protecting the rights of the Armenian people, still it expands beyond those borders and acquires a global essence since it promotes a world of peace and justice.

Participants and Members of the European Parliament’s EU-Armenia Friendship Group pay respects at Armenian Genocide memorial in Yerevan, on April 24th.

(source: theeuarmeniafriendshipgroup.com) – On the occasion of its first official visit to Armenia, members and participants of the newly created EU-Armenia Friendship Group in the European Parliament attended and payed respects at the memorial ceremony of the Armenian Genocide held at the Tsiternakapert Genocide memorial monument in Yerevan.

The Armenian Genocide, also known as the Armenian Holocaust refers to the mass relocation and extermination of Armenians during the Young Turks government of the Ottoman Empire from 1915 to 1917. Still to this day this tragic historical event does not have international recognition, but is commemorated annually around the world on April the 24th.

Members of the delegation took part in the laying of the wreath ceremony and also visited the Genocide memorial museum afterwards.

In relation to this morning’s events, the President of the EU-Armenia Friendship Group leader of the delegation Dr. Eleni Theocharous stated: “We will never forget the victims of the Armenian Genocide carried out by the authoritarian Young Turks government in 1915. We will continue fighting for the restoration of the human rights of all people on earth whose rights are being compromised.”

Valérie Boyer, a French member of Parliament who joined the EU-Armenia Friendship Group on its first delegation stated: “I am very touched to be in Yerevan for this occasion. It is an absolute necessity to for the Armenian Genocide to gain international recognition. Recognition is a question of dignity and honour, not only to recognise the past but also to reinforce ideals of human rights which are of great importance to world we live in today.”

Furthermore, Kaspar Karampetian the President of the European Armenian Federation of Justice and Democracy, a Brussels based political think tank also enforced: “It is a great joy for me to be present with the EU-Armenia Friendship Group in the European Parliament and also with Mrs Valerie Boyer a long lasting supporter of the Armenian cause in France. It is an honour for me to be present in Yerevan on this specific occasion to commemorate the Armenian genocide at its official memorial ceremony.”