Armenia attaches great importance to Iraqi Kurdistan: Armenian Consul
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – Armenia’s Consul General Arshak Manoukian told Kurdistan 24 that Armenia attaches great importance in the development of multifaceted cooperation with Iraqi Kurdistan “and we are ready to continue to take practical steps and actions in this direction.”
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The Armenian Consulate General was opened in Erbil two years on Feb. 24. “We are happy to acknowledge the rich agenda and solid activities that have been shaped during this short time,” Armenia’s Consul General Arshak Manoukian said.
“Today we can note with satisfaction that during the last two years we had high-level bilateral reciprocal visits, which will contribute to further deepening our bilateral relations,” he added.
On Feb. 17, President Nechirvan Barzani met with Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan in Munich, on the sidelines of the Munich Security conference.
During the meeting, they discussed the importance of Armenia’s trade relations with Iraq and the Kurdistan Region and also highlighted the situation of the Kurdish Diaspora in Armenia and the Armenian Diaspora in the Kurdistan Region.
“We also attach importance to promoting the collaboration between the Armenian and Kurdish Diasporas in the world,” Armenia’s Consul General Arshak Manoukian noted.
Armenia also has good relations with the Kurdistan parliament. In December last year,a delegation from Kurdistan Parliament’s Martyrs, Genocide and Political Prisoners Committee participated in the 4th Global Forum on Genocide in Armenia.
“We consider the parliamentarian cooperation as an effective format to expand bilateral relations,” Armenian Consul General Manoukian stated. “I would like to note with satisfaction that there are good prospects for promoting decentralized cooperation.”
In May 2022, the Kurdistan Region Prime Minister Masrour Barzani met the Armenian President Vahagn Khachaturyan in Davos, Switzerland and discussed strengthening relations between the Kurdistan Region and Armenia, especially in the trade and investment sector.
Read More: PM Barzani discusses trade and investment with Armenian President Khachaturyan
“We can note with satisfaction that the trade-economic relations between Armenia and the Kurdistan Region are flourishing,” the Armenian Consul added. “The trade turnover between Armenia and Iraq in 2022 reached 250 million dollars, a big part of which belongs to the Kurdistan Region.”
“Armenia considers Kurdistan Region an important partner to export its products to the Middle Eastern market,” he added. However, he said he does believe “there is still untapped potential in our trade-economic relations. “The Armenian-Kurdish business forums held in Armenia in May 2022 are productive steps to explore new ways for further deepening our trade-economic relations.”
He also added they have “great untapped potential in the scientific education field. According to the statistical information, we have about 400 Kurdish students studying in private universities. We would like to encourage the youth of Iraqi Kurdistan to consider studying in Armenian public universities.”
“I am glad to note as well that the Diplomatic School of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia conducted two training programs during the last two years for the junior diplomats of various governmental agencies of the Kurdistan Region,” told Manoukian
He also announced that Armenia is ready to discuss the allocation of some scholarships for the students of the Kurdistan Region. “Since the opening of the Consulate General of Armenia in Erbil, we have expanded our academic activities,” he said.
“We also have good prospects of cooperation between universities and academic centers of Armenia and Kurdistan Region. We are ready to share with our friends the academic experience of Armenia, including genocide studies.”
He also said Armenia is aware of the dire humanitarian situation of nearly one million IDPs (internally displaced persons) and refugees in the Kurdistan Region.
“In 2022, the Government of Armenia provided humanitarian assistance to the Yezidi IDPs and refugees in the Kurdistan Region,” he said.
“One of the potential fields of humanitarian cooperation is de-mining. I am glad to note that the governmental agencies of Armenia and Kurdistan Region paid reciprocal visits and signed a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in 2022.”
He also stressed that Armenia provided assistance to the Syrian people and cleared “affected regions from the mines and explosive materials.”
“I hope that the agreements will be fulfilled in the near future, which will help to make Kurdistan Region a more prosperous and secure place,” he said.
Last Wednesday, the International Court of Justice issued a legally binding verdict against Azerbaijan, ordering it to take all necessary measures to ensure unimpeded movement of persons, vehicles and cargo along the Lachin Corridor in both directions. Azerbaijan has continued to put a blockade on the corridor that is the only land access that connects Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia.
“As you may know, since December 2022, Azerbaijan in violation of trilateral declaration signed on November 9, unilaterally blocked the only lifeline that connects the people of Nagorno Karabakh to the entire world, threatening another ethnic cleansing of the Nagorno Karabakh people,” Manoukian said.
“Thirt-five years ago, in 1988, the peaceful liberation movement started in Nagorno Karabakh. The resolution, adopted by XX Session of the Nagorno Karabakh Council of People’s Deputies on February 20, 1988, was in essence a constitutional claim to replace Armenian-populated Nagorno-Karabakh from Soviet Azerbaijan into Soviet Armenia,” Manoukian stated.
“Azerbaijani official reaction to this was rather prompt. A week later, in the Azerbaijani town of Sumgait – 20 km from the capital Baku– horrific pogroms of Armenians began.”
Arshak Manoukian added: “As The Nobel Peace Prize laureate Andrei Sakharov says: “If anyone could doubt it before Sumgait, then after this tragedy, no one has a moral justification to insist on preserving the territorial ownership of Nagorno Karabakh to Azerbaijan”.
The Nagorno-Karabakh area declared independence in 1991, following the break-up of the Soviet Union.
Following the declaration, 30,000 people died in a conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia over this territory, but both agreed on a ceasefire in 1994. But clashes have periodically broken out in areas near Nagorno-Karabakh and the Azerbaijani-Armenian border, including in 2020, which killed nearly 7,000 soldiers and the death of 170 civilians. Also in September, clashes erupted again.
“Despite the declarations of the international community (US, Russia, France, and other European countries and organizations) to end this inhuman act, Azerbaijan continues its policy of Armenophobia,” Manoukian stated.
“The continuing state-sponsored policy of anti-Armenianism in Azerbaijan and ethnocide against Armenian cultural heritage is yet another proof of the impossibility for a second forceful inclusion of an Armenian Nagorno-Karabakh into Azerbaijan,” he added.