From Zurich Protocols to Nagorno-Karabakh – parliament official sums up Armenian delegation’s visit to US

11:35 • 13.03.18

In an interview with, the chairman of the National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Foreign Relations, summed up the parliamentary delegation's recent visit to the United States, describing it as unprecedented.

According to Armen Ashotyan, the parliamentary diplomacy's engagement in the developing cooperation, as well as in the current process of Armenia's constitutional transition to a parliamentary government, was an important step towards raising the parliament's role, including the development of a political agenda and the promotion of a future progress. Ashotyan said he doesn't think that the US-Armenia cooperation agenda should be restricted only to coalition-related issues or an anti-corruption strategy. 

Mr Ashotyan, how would you evaluate the Armenian delegation's visit to the United States? We already hear opinions branding it as 'historic'. What agreements were reached and what were the frameworks of the meetings conducted?

The visit was really discussed a lot, which is absolutely logical given the United States' status a major superpower on the international arena. Hence I consider parliamentary diplomacy's engagement very  important in the current efforts towards stepping up the US-Armenia relations. 

The [parliamentary] friendship group, led by [Vice Speaker] Arpine Hovhannisyan, managed to properly upgrade the US-Armenia cooperation agenda in the parliamentary format. The meetings had a saturated agenda, and were really presentable. Several media outlets have the misperception that the level of those meetings wasn't very high, but that's largely due the poor knowledge of the US political structure in Armenia.

The opening meeting with the Armenian friendship group was naturally held in US Congress, where both the Republican and Democratic [factions] have a representations. We separately held a meeting – a very meaningful one – also with [representatives of] the Committee on Foreign Affairs. Besides, Arpine Hpovhannisyan had talks with the USAID; we later held meetings with the Helsinki Committee and the Carnegie Center.  

The issues raised covered a very broad agenda – from global geopolitical developments to regional security issues, the Armenia-Turkey protocols to the Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) conflict settlement, the US-Armenia bilateral relations (including economic cooperation) to the reforms in Armenia, and certain information about the transitional provisions [in the amended Constitution]. It is important for our US partners to get first-hand information about the the different processes in our country. As for the historic evaluation, I would rather avoid making haste to consider the visit historic. But it was definitely unprecedented. An notable moment in my view is especially fact that the Armenian institutions in the US are very actively engaged in the political processes in the country. So it is virtually possible to embark on more effective work after finalizing the Armenian authorities’ agenda.

What is the US partners' overall evaluation of the reforms in Armenia? Did they express concerns over failures to properly implement the commitments in specific areas?

Very detailed discussions were held over the policy changes in Armenia. We put a special emphasis on the fact that despite all the problems still awaiting a solution, Armenia's records in democracy building and free trade development are among the best on the post-Soviet area and very often - even better compared to many Europeanized countries. Obviously, political efforts have yet to be invested, and many paths – still paved for resolving the existing problems. But the general opinion is that the awareness was all in all low among our American partners. So it was important to properly inform them of [the developments in our country] – from the anti-corruption strategy to the transformation phase underlying the transition to a parliamentary republic. We have covered the entire specter of issues.

Mr Ashotyan, while you were in the United States, the US ambassador to Armenia, Ruchard Mills, voiced his concerns over corruption and abuse of power in Armenia, describing them as the greatest challenges to the country. Were the same concerns observed also among the US partners you conducted meetings with?

As the head of a foreign relations committee, I can only affirm that the agenda of the US ambassador – and our relations in general - is very full indeed as we maintain a warm working dialogue. At the same time, I emphasized at the meetings that the US-Armenia agenda cannot be restricted only to corruption-related issues or an anti-corruption strategy. It is common knowledge that the United States are intensively collaborating with countries facing more corruption-related challenges; I don't think there is any need to enumerate them now. Corruption is obviously a very important issue on Armenia's agenda, but it is not the only problem. Hence, I don't think it is right or promising to narrow down the Armenia-US cooperation to anti-corruption issues alone.

Investments expected from the United States are always of importance for Armenia. Did the meetings address issues of the kind to consider what can be attractive to major US investors?

We discussed also the Armenian-American economic agenda. Though the parliament has no immediate engagement there, it can nonetheless have it say when it comes to legislative solutions, especially with respect to the possible Double Tax Treaty, etc. With its market of just 3 million, Armenia's economy may not really be attractive to major US investors. But considering Armenia's unique geopolitical position – its membership in the Eurasian Economic Union with all its advantages on the one hand, and the [privilege] to use the GSP+ system [in the trade relations] with the EU on the other – there are chances of an expanded cooperation in case of a new agreement. So Armenia's economic prospects must not be measured in terms of the domestic market alone.




Nelly Lazaryan


LATEST NEWSAll Today news

16:18 • 19/09

IBM launches AI bias detector

15:52 • 19/09

Kocharyan explains reasons behind ‘political comeback’

15:08 • 19/09

Azerbaijan, Russia conduct joint drills in Caspian Sea

13:07 • 19/09

The Weeknd sued 'for at least $5m' for 'stealing' his hit song Starboy from another artist

12:36 • 19/09

EU 'ready to improve' Irish border deal

12:09 • 19/09

Trump hails 'exciting' agreements by North Korean leader

12:05 • 19/09

Turkish workers arrested after Istanbul airport protests  

11:30 • 19/09

Trump considers request for US military base in Poland

11:18 • 19/09

Jessica Simpson expecting third baby

11:06 • 19/09

Facebook accused of gender discrimination in job adss

10:34 • 19/09

We are ready for negotiations but must be prepared for war, prime minister says in Artsakh

09:24 • 19/09

Pentagon lists Russia, China as biggest threats to US

09:13 • 19/09

North and South Koreas ‘commit to era of no wars’

17:56 • 18/09

Armenian khachkar unveiled in Polish city

17:05 • 18/09

Armenian parliament official briefs PACE committee on Azerbaijani aggression against Armenian civilian settlements

16:55 • 18/09

Ucom doubles inclusions of uDaily prepay mobile internet service

16:35 • 18/09

Former Liverpool defender forced to retire with motor neurone disease just months after marrying England women's captain 

16:22 • 18/09

Armenia, China sign deal to facilitate air communication

15:40 • 18/09

Trump orders release of classified documents in Russia probe

15:24 • 18/09

Armenian government delegation conducts visit to Nagorno-Karabakh

14:51 • 18/09

Central Bank chief re-elected president of interstate bank council

14:40 • 18/09

Armenian defense minister meets with FAST foundation president

14:08 • 18/09

NASA's new spacecraft captures photo of more than a dozen celestial objects known to host exoplanets in stunning 'first light' image

13:45 • 18/09

Pakistan's austerity car auction falls short, new PM commutes by helicopter

13:25 • 18/09

Armenian family’s 400-year-old musical secret still rings true

13:17 • 18/09

Russia blames Israel for downing of plane, vows retaliation

12:45 • 18/09

Chief architect of Yerevan sacked

12:25 • 18/09

Republic Square selected as 'hot spot' of independence day events to symbolize success in ‘Velvet Revolution’

11:26 • 18/09

Libarman’s visit to Baku signals strengthening Azerbaijani-Israeli relations

11:09 • 18/09

Zhoghovurd: OSCE to turn closer spotlight on situation along Karabakh frontline

10:35 • 18/09

Russian military plane disappears during Israeli strikes on Latakia with 14 people on board

10:13 • 18/09

Zhamanak: Putin planning meeting with former presidents in Yerevan

09:56 • 18/09

SpaceX unveils first Moon Loop tourist

09:51 • 18/09

Sean Penn Calls #MeToo Movement ‘Receptacle of the Salacious’

09:44 • 18/09

Florence leaves 'monumental disaster' for North Carolina

09:31 • 18/09

Magnitude 1.9 earthquake hits Armenia’s south

09:13 • 18/09

SpaceX signs first private moon customer

09:12 • 18/09

Russia and Turkey agree to create buffer zone in Syria's Idlib

19:40 • 17/09

Facts, figures, and Results: Zvartnots International Airport reports details on its activity and not օnly

17:53 • 17/09

French actor Gerard Depardieu 'wants' to acquire Turkish citizenship

17:35 • 17/09

New head of OSCE Mission to Skopje takes office

17:23 • 17/09

Ukraine's Poroshenko terminates Treaty of Friendship with Russia

16:38 • 17/09

Samsung’s Galaxy Note 9 reportedly catches fire in user’s purse  

16:05 • 17/09

Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: Nagorno-Karabakh is not just conflict for Armenia

15:17 • 17/09

Turkish Coast Guard rescues 16 migrants as boat capsizes

14:46 • 17/09

Yerevan hosts 11th Armrobotics Championship

12:46 • 17/09

Britain’s oldest person reveals secret of longevity  

12:33 • 17/09

Arthur Abraham takes part in 45th BMW Berlin Marathon

12:02 • 17/09

Penelope Cruz dazzles in elegant one-shoulder gown as she joins husband Javier Bardem for LA screening of Loving Pablo

11:34 • 17/09

Armenian, Artsakh foreign ministers meet in Stepanakert

11:10 • 17/09

Turkey to increase troops in Turkish Cyprus

10:43 • 17/09

Elon Musk says Tesla now in 'delivery logistics hell'

10:14 • 17/09

Azerbaijan's armed forces open fire on Armenia’s south from Nakhicehvan

09:51 • 17/09

As Trump and Mattis clash in public, officials question how long he'll last at the Pentagon

09:37 • 17/09

It's not novichok, say police: 'Russian' couple fall ill at Salisbury restaurant with nerve-agent symptoms

09:15 • 17/09

New doubts emerge about US-led sanctions on North Korea

14:49 • 15/09

No more favoritism or privileged classes in Armenia - Pashinyan's interview with Le Monde

14:02 • 15/09

Kocharyan’s statements reflect level of his political understanding – Nikol Pashinyan

13:12 • 15/09

International Figure Skating Classic 2018: Armenia’s Slavik Hayrapetyan ranks fifth (video)

12:48 • 15/09

Erdogan travels to Baku  

12:07 • 15/09

Russian Orthodox church cuts ties with Constantinople over Ukraine

11:23 • 15/09

Zhamanak: Gyumri mayor 'to quit' over 'failure to work effectively' with Pashinyan's cabinet

10:49 • 15/09

Turkey demands release of 16-year-old boy held in Armenia

09:50 • 15/09

Jean-Claude Van Damme arrives in Armenia  

09:42 • 15/09

Nebraska doctor to face execution for killing four people

09:32 • 15/09

Azerbaijan shells border village in Armenia’s Tavush region

17:43 • 14/09

Jean-Claude Van Damme to visit Armenia

17:37 • 14/09

Apple criticized for new iPhones 'too big for women to hold'

16:27 • 14/09

French, Armenian leaders start working meeting in Paris

16:10 • 14/09

Armenian Genocide museum elects new director

15:26 • 14/09

Animals snapped enjoying surprise snowfall in South Africa

15:00 • 14/09

Armenian biker named double winner in Astana championship  

14:21 • 14/09

‘Velvet Revolution’ marked also revolution of values in Armenia – Nikol Pashinyan

12:49 • 14/09

Azerbaijan braces for military drills 'in response' to Armenia

12:05 • 14/09

Ucom to start pre-registration of iPhone XS and XS Max purchase

12:03 • 14/09

Amazon's Jeff Bezos commits $2 billion to help homeless, pre-schools

11:54 • 14/09

Hurricane Florence: Life threatening storm lashes US

11:09 • 14/09

Armenia 'important role-player' in global politics, prime minister says in France

10:01 • 14/09

US congressman raises call for Armenian Genocide recognition

09:31 • 14/09

Saroyan world premiere adds dates in Fresno and OC, announces encore L A performance

09:19 • 14/09

Gas explosions hit homes in Massachusetts

18:08 • 13/09

Mbappe better than Ronaldo, says De Vrij

17:42 • 13/09

We understand Armenian government’s desire to help compatriots in Syria - US Embassy

17:23 • 13/09

Meghan Markle pregnant? Bookies expecting baby announcement soon

17:06 • 13/09

US government encourages open labs in Armenia – embassy statement

16:36 • 13/09

Edward Nalbandian: Prime minister misleadingly accused former government of failure over Karabakh

15:01 • 13/09

Pashinyan vows to 'lock up' masterminds behind March 1 events  

14:09 • 13/09

Six killed in California shooting

13:55 • 13/09

Apple ends iPhone X and iPhoe SE sale

13:09 • 13/09

Trump signs order to punish US meddlers

12:55 • 13/09

Turkey to use national currency in property transactions

12:37 • 13/09

Pashinyan will regret messing with me – Robert Kocharyan

12:13 • 13/09

Pashinyan holds phone conversation with Kyrgyzstan's leader

11:11 • 13/09

Drake, Cardi B lead American Music Awards

10:52 • 13/09

Zhamanak: CSTO secretary general to step down over March 2008 coup charges

09:58 • 13/09

Putin to conduct official visit to Armenia - Russian paper

09:30 • 13/09

Turkey 'boosts arms to Syrian rebels' as Idlib attack looms

09:13 • 13/09

Apple unveils iPhone XS and fall-detecting watch

18:15 • 12/09

United Airlines passengers stunned as pilot changes out of uniform and takes a nap in first class

17:51 • 12/09

New iPhone models confirmed in Apple’s products site map