2017 can be considered successful for the foreign policy of the Republic of Armenia. In 2017 Yerevan continued to strengthen cooperation with its traditional partners, and steps were taken to expand that framework. Thus, high-level mutual visits were held with Russia, US, India, China, Japan, Greece, France, Italy and Turkmenistan as well as events dedicated to the 25th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic relations with many countries.
During the year, much attention has been paid to the development of relations with neighboring countries. In 2017, the Armenian-Iranian relations continued to develop dynamically. High-ranking reciprocal visits (including President Sargsyan's working visit to Iran, Iran's Foreign Minister Mohammad-Zarif's visit to Armenia) were the main deals of economic relations. In the development of the latter, the free economic zone of Meghri is of great importance.
In 2017 steps were taken to develop relations with neighboring Georgia. High-ranking reciprocal visits during the year ended with a two-day official visit by Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan to Georgia. For Armenia the most important priority in relations with Georgia was to neutralize the anti-Armenian position of Tbilisi in a number of regional programs.
As for our other neighbors, Turkey and Azerbaijan, let us mention that the year did not register any positive developments in Armenian-Turkish relations and in the conditions of preserving such situation, Armenia stated that until the spring of 2018 the Armenian-Turkish protocols will be declared void.
As for Azerbaijan and, in particular, the developments over the settlement of Karabakh conflict, let's note that the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs' efforts in 2017 were intensified, as a result of which a meeting between the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan took place in Geneva. These efforts were somewhat contributed to the relative mitigation of the tension at the end of the year, but progress in the negotiation process is still not noticeable.
As to the other main directions of Armenia's foreign policy in the past year, let's note that in 2017 Armenia continued to develop relations with the Arab countries. The year was especially effective for the development of relations with Iraq, Syria, UAE and Qatar. It should be noted that in recent years the development of relations with the Gulf monarchies is in the focus of Armenia's foreign policy. This is evidenced by the frequent high-ranking reciprocal visits, as well as the circumstance that President Serzh Sargsyan paid a working visit to UAE in 2017 and Qatar on an official visit. The fact that Yerevan is interested in the relations with Arab monarchies is obvious as Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian visited Qatar during the Gulf Crisis days and discussed bilateral issues and exchanged views with the Qatar Foreign Minister on the developments in the Persian Gulf.
The year was also effective in terms of developing relations with another Middle Eastern country, Israel. In 2017, Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian paid an official visit to Israel where he had meetings with senior government officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It is worth mentioning that this was the first official visit of the Foreign Minister to this country (before that there were only 4 foreign ministers' visits, the last one in 2000), which testifies the qualitative changes in the Armenian-Israeli relations.
In 2017 official Yerevan made serious progress in the European direction. It should be noted that during the year official Yerevan was more focused on the development of relations with the European Union rather than individual European countries. And Armenia's efforts succeeded in this direction. Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement was signed between the Republic of Armenia and the European Union on November 24 in Brussels. The signing of such an agreement under the conditions of Armenia's accession to the EAEU can definitely be qualified as the main achievement of Armenia's foreign policy in 2017. Thus, official Yerevan, despite pessimistic forecasts, showed that its "both and" policy is quite possible.
It should be noted that this year Armenia continued to play an active role in other integration processes, particularly within the framework of the EAEU and the CIS. Official Yerevan also actively cooperates with international organizations. It should be noted that the year was especially effective in terms of cooperation with the United Nations and the OSCE.
In 2017, Armenia assumed the presidency of the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation.
In 2017, Armenia joined the 16th Additional Protocol to the Council of Europe Convention on the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, the Council of Europe Convention on Claims on the Protection of Cultural Property, the Transboundary E-Trade Agreement, and the Trans-European Transport Network's Enlargement Document.
It should be noted that in 2017 Armenia established diplomatic relations with Liberia, Nauru, Bahamas, Central African Republic, Micronesia, Palau, Saint Kitts and Nevis.