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Interviews, articles and comments

Interview of the Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan to "Banadzev" TV programme

31.05.2018

Question: Mr. Mnatsakanyan, first of all, I thank you for joining us, and the first question is: how do the negotiations with the Georgian leadership proceed?

Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: They are very warm and very pragmatic.

Question. Are the agenda issues already identified? Is there already an agreement reached over the negotiated issues?

Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: You know, the most important agreements are that the two Prime Ministers in a quite pragmatic way agreed that we have relevant structures within which we discuss our entire bilateral agenda and in that frameworks we intend to evaluate the programmes that are already underway, estimate their progress, various related issues, we would evaluate as well the new activities, new programmes we can identify and include in our agenda. And also have a longer-term strategic blueprint in our bilateral relations.

Question. Mr Mnatsakanyan, there was an active discussion last week over the possible solution of the issue of opening the Abkhazian railway. There are ongoing Russian-Georgian talks. Did you touched upon the prospects of opening this railroad?
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: We are now being informed about the current course of the process, since it is still in a process.

Question. Mr. Mnatsakanyan, there is a visit of the Prime Minister to Javakhk scheduled for tomorrow, which will be the first such level visit to the region in last nearly twenty years. Is this a familiarization visit or will you try to solve, to some extent, the problems of Javakhk Armenians on the spot?

Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: This is one of the issues of our greater agenda, and it is very indicative and symbolic that the two prime ministers, the two governments have enough determination and intention to purposefully work together. This visit to Javakhk also demonstrates the intentions of the heads of two governments.

Question. Mr. Mnatsakanyan, I know you have a very extensive agenda and some pressing issues. For example, on the second day of your tenure you have visited together with the Minister of Defense the Nakhichevan outposts. Today, an information was spread on social media that the Azerbaijani forces have built new outposts at the border, occupying dominant positions. What is the response of Armenia to these actions of Baku?

Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: Minister of Defense will answer more precisely to your questions. But the purpose of our visit was also preventive in the sense that such issues are always in the focus of our attention, both for the Defense Minister and for me. We have already noted that any development, which will hinder the negotiation process, will be unacceptable and will have a negative impact on the negotiation process. We must make every effort to avoid such developments. We, that is all sides, in this case it refers to Azerbaijan, should avoid any such development.

We intend to maintain our engagement n the process, in the negotiations, we intend to conduct negotiations aimed at reaching a peaceful settlement. We will do it within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship and any action that undermines the environment conducive to peace should be excluded.

Question. Mr. Mnatsakanyan, Yerevan always emphasizes that it is necessary to create an atmosphere of confidence in order to reach settlement. I am speaking about the Karabakh talks. How do you envision that atmosphere? What should Azerbaijan do? And surely, as far as I understand, the strengthening of Nakhichevan positions is not among those steps.

Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: You have brought up one example. The same could be said about the statements that are periodically voiced from Baku, the essence and substance of which prove the opposite, and are evidence of keeping such wordings, such statements that in no way can be perceived as contributing to the environment conducive to peace. This is a crucial and very important issue for us in the context of the negotiation process. Negotiations can not proceed in such an environment, where exists the atmosphere of hostility. There can not be anything that does not contribute to a normal, natural course of the process, that does not contribute to reaching a real peace.

Question. Minister, you are going to meet with the Co-Chairs in June. At the moment, are there any discussions about the possibility of meeting with Azerbaijani Foreign Minister and the issue of organizing Pashinyan-Aliyev meeting?

Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: Let us not rush. You should have heard that I have had phone conversations with various officials who play a direct role in that process. This is going to be continuous. We will carry on this process through purposeful and calculated steps. The direct contacts will happen when the time comes. I am not speaking about months, but about weeks. We are in that process.

Question. What is our attitude? In other words, are we going to put forward some preconditions to Baku or we are going to continue from where the negotiations have been left off?

Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: There is a process. We value it, we are going to and we intend to do what has been done so far and to build process on that basis. We talked about continuity, we talked about ensuring sustainable peace through peaceful means and negotiations.

Question. And the last question, Minister. The United States is restoring sanctions against Iran and adopts a very tough approach towards its partners who do not break relations with Iran. Are we working in this direction, what is our approach? Because it is evident that Iran is our southern neighbor, our main way of communication, and we simply cannot break all our relations with Tehran.

Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: We expressed our position when the relevant UN resolution was adopted back in 2015, we have welcomed a joint, comprehensive action plan. For us, relations with Iran are of vital importance, we have an already formed and developed relations with Iran. We are sensitive to these issues. We also take into account the role of the Security Council's resolution and we have cooperation with the United States.

We combine all this, as well as identify and explain, make visible those vital interests that Armenia has in all matters within the context of relations with Iran.

 

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