Russia to Persevere with Intermediary and Peacekeeping Role in Caucasian 'Hot Spots' - 9 October, 2002

Russia will persevere with her intermediary and peacekeeping role in all the 'hot spots' of the Caucasus region: Nagorny Karabakh, Abkhazia, and North Ossetia. According to the Russian Foreign Ministry's press service, this was announced yesterday by Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov at the final plenary session of the international Armenian's of the World at the Turn of the Century and Current Problems of International Relations conference. The Foreign Minister stressed that 'Russia is a Caucasian power, and she has natural, legitimate interests in the region,' before explaining that Russia's main goal is 'to bring peace and security to the Caucasus, and to turn the region into a stable, flourishing zone'. According to Ivanov, recent events on the Russian-Georgian border once again demonstrate that these goals cannot be attained 'without a determined fight against sprawling international terrorism, and without close cooperation in the resolution of conflicts smoldering here'.

The Foreign Minister stressed that Russia is open to any kind of partnership with all the Caucasian states without exception. He remarked that 'an important role can be played by regional cooperation between the four main Caucasian powers: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia and Russia'.

Ivanov believes that Armenia occupies a special place among Russia's Caucasian partners. 'We clearly share the same approach to global and regional problems, we work together successfully in the CIS and within the framework of the Collective Security Treaty, and also in such international organisations as the UN, OSCE and Council of Europe,' he declared.

Igor Ivanov also remarked that the Armenian foreign diaspora successfully acts as a kind of bridge between the countries in which it is to be found and Armenia. According to the minister, 'this bridge is large and strong' in Russia, as over two million Armenians currently live there.

The Foreign Minister ended his speech by thanking the organizers of the conference - the Union of Russian-Armenians, which, according to the minister, ' has already done a great deal to actively draw its members into the processes of Russia's democratic restructuring and social and economic development, and widening Russian-Armenian cooperation'. Ivanov also stressed that 'the Foreign Ministry is ready to continue its collaboration with the union in its important and useful work'.

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