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ArmInfo’s interview with Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Poland to Armenia Zdzislaw Raczynski
by Ashot Safaryan
Mr. Raczynski, many people in Armenia consider partnership with the EU as a counterweight to the relations with Russia. Do Moscow and Brussels really compete in this region and, particularly, in Armenia?
I do not share the view that Armenia or any other country of the South Caucasus faces a dilemma: either the EU or Russia. One can and should speak of another choice: either an authoritarian, corrupted, undemocratic model of development or brave, consistent, democratic reforms aimed at building a legal, fair, open state and society close to the European understanding of the mechanism of a modern state. The European Neighborhood Policy (ENP) is addressed to all the neighbors - both eastern and southern ones. The Eastern Partnership Program adapts the ENP to the conditions and needs of the Eastern European countries.
Who do you think benefits from destabilization of the situation in the region given that the Karabakh conflict and the permanent provocations by Azerbaijan hamper the integration processes you have mentioned?
The aggravation of the situation in the region is hardly beneficial to anyone. There is a conflict, and there are problems inherited from the past. I would not say that some external forces intentionally bestir the situation in the South Caucasus. This problem has several components. I think all the three countries of the South Caucasus are quite small by their size and potential. Their future in the system of international relations in the economic space of Europe would seem more promising if these three countries came out as a single unit. We would deal with a conflict-free space with its states effectively cooperating, having open borders and contacting societies. This would be a different reality, a different quality. However, one cannot rule out that other players may make advantage of this complicated situation.
Can one say that Poland as the initiator of the Eastern Partnership program supervises the integration processes of the South Caucasus countries?
I do not perceive such definitions as supervisor, curator, leader, head… The three independent, sovereign states determine their choice and their fate themselves. Nobody has the right to impose anything on them. It's another matter that sometimes it's not bad to listen to the friends or look at a successful example, which can be applied in another country. I think Poland can be such an example. Over the past 20 years Poland has managed to reform the country into a dynamic, rapidly developing state, which manages to avoid the acute manifestation of the economic crisis. In addition, Poland has neither deposits of energy resources nor any extraordinary privileges. Poland is much closer to its Eastern neighbors - geographically, historically and culturally.
Moreover, the country has a serious scientific potential analyzing the situation in the eastern part of the European continent. Warsaw has a political will to address the issues of Eastern Europe. But to solve the Eastern Partnership's problems successfully, the resources of the whole European Union should be mobilized, he said. Therefore, we advocate involving the forces and funds of the EU in general and first of all the most powerful economic state of Europe - Germany. One can say without exaggeration that today the success of the project addressed to the East depends on the harmonious interaction between Warsaw and Berlin.
What attitude does Poland have towards the sanctions against Iran given the demand of the growing Polish economy for energy resources?
Everyone in Europe realizes the concern over possible use of the nuclear program of Iran not only for peaceful purposes. The uncertainty around Tehran's nuclear program is a serious destabilizing factor. Here we are in sympathy with our European partners. Poland supports the EU's aspiration to gain transparency in Iran's intentions. Warsaw can have no separate position. In the meantime, I cannot say how efficient the sanctions are. Moreover, I do not consider the unilateral actions against Iran to be a panacea. I think that the discrepancies can be removed by means of a dialogue, and today there are still chances to do that.
Does the European Union understand the cooperation between Armenia and Iran given the economic blockade imposed on our country by Turkey and Azerbaijan?
The European Union fully understands the specific situation of Armenia and the need for its cooperation with Tehran. It is enough to say that no critical statements have been made so far. Moreover, the authorities of Armenia assure that the interaction between Yerevan and Tehran does not violate the regime of international sanctions against Iran.
The recent mutual visits between Armenia and the EU have been paid consistently, which is curious enough against the background of the sanctions against Iran and tension in Syria.
I do not think the mutual visits of the high-ranking officials are connected with any geopolitical games or with the situation around Iran and Syria. Certainly, we are very much interested in the stance of Armenia as a country situated closely to the ongoing processes. Of course, Yerevan is well aware of what is going on there. But I take a different view of all these phenomena: such visits confirm the developing cooperation between Armenia and the EU.
European Union High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy Catherine Ashton has recently said that the parliamentary elections in Armenia were the best throughout the history of independence. Why is Brussels so benevolent to our authorities given the numerous flaws and violations during the electoral process?
Registration of some inaccuracies and flaws does not rule out that the elections were the best of all the previous elections. They were better than the previous electoral processes, but it does not mean that they were really ideal. The whole report of the OSCE/ODIHR Election Observation Mission directly points out the violations, flaws, nobody shuts eyes to them.