President Serzh Sarkisian and his visiting Tajik counterpart Emomali Rahmon pledged on Wednesday to strengthen what they called strategic partnership between their countries that are both members of a Russian-led military alliance.
The two men cited “strong historical links” between the former Soviet republics in a joint communique issued after their talks held during Rahmon’s official visit to Yerevan. They also presided over the signing of a dozen Armenian-Tajik agreements designed to deepen bilateral ties in a range of areas.
“The Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Tajikistan are determined to reinforce and multiply friendship between the peoples of the two countries,” read the joint statement. “They will be building their relationships on the basis of strategic partnership and in the spirit of mutual trust.”
It said Yerevan and Dushanbe “will actively interact in the fulfillment of mutual obligations” stemming from their membership in the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). They are also committed to “deepening mutually beneficial economic cooperation,” added the statement.
Sarkisian and Rahmon further called for a “solely peaceful” resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. In that regard, they reaffirmed a Karabakh-related statement that was adopted by the heads of CSTO member states at an October 2016 summit held in Yerevan. That statement backed the U.S., Russian and French mediators’ pursuit of a Karabakh settlement based on the internationally recognized principles of non-use of force, territorial integrity of states, and peoples’ right to self-determination.
Armenia has repeatedly criticized the CSTO’s Central Asian member states -- Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan -- for signing pro-Azerbaijani declarations by Muslim or Turkic nations which called for a Karabakh peace based only on Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. Rahmon again did so as recently as in March at a summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) held in Pakistan. By contrast, Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev refused to back Karabakh-related parts of an ECO declaration, prompting strong criticism from Baku.
Sarkisian stressed the importance of both territorial integrity and self-determination in the context of the Karabakh issue when he addressed the press after the talks with the Tajik leader. He said he “once again emphasized” at their meeting that the OSCE Minsk Group led by the United States, Russia and France is the sole body with an international mandate to mediate in the Karabakh peace process. Sarkisian’s joint statement with Rahmon makes the same point.