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Press conference

Remarks and answers of Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian to questions of journalists at a joint press conference with Lamberto Zannier, the OSCE Secretary General


Ladies and gentlemen,

I am glad to welcome Lamberto Zannier, the OSCE Secretary General, in Yerevan.

Armenia’s involvement in all the dimensions of the OSCE’s activity, implementation of the OSCE programmes in Armenia can indeed be considered exemplary.

The visit of the Secretary General takes place at a time when the Organization has to close its last office in our region since one of the OSCE participating states, Azerbaijan, by abusing its right of veto, blocked the extension of the mandate of the OSCE Yerevan Office. Baku attempted to present this within Azerbaijan-Armenia dimension, while in reality it is related to the OSCE-Azerbaijan relations. This is an act directed against the OSCE itself.

I believe that the OSCE Chairmanship, as well as the participating states and the Secretariat have made relevant conclusions in regard to this destructive step of Baku, which totally contradicts the OSCE vision and goals.

Regarding the Office I would like to add that we anticipate that many programmes, which Office has been implementing, will continue to be realized within other formats.

We have had a comprehensive discussion with Mr. Zannier both during a tete-a-tete meeting and with participation of delegations that followed.

We exchanged views on the issues of the Organization's agenda, activities in all three dimensions, discussed the process of implementation of the priorities of the Austrian Chairmanship.

We also touched upon the Parliamentary elections held in Armenia on April 2. We stated that the unprecedented number of observers monitored the elections. The assessments of the international observation missions are indeed valuable, according to which the elections were well organized, fundamental human rights were respected and the voting results reflect the will of the people of Armenia.

I presented to Mr. Zannier the efforts of Armenia and the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries aimed at advancing the peaceful settlement process of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue. We highlighted the importance of implementation of the agreements reached during the last year’s summits in Vienna and St. Petersburg, the realization of which, as you know, Azerbaijan continues to obstruct.

We also focused on other urgent international and regional security-related issues.

Using this opportunity I would like to emphasize that during his six-year tenure the Secretary General and I established solid working contacts and warm personal relations, which greatly contributes to effective cooperation within the OSCE. As most probably, this is the last visit of Mr. Zannier to Armenia in his current capacity, I would like to thank him for close cooperation and wish him every success in his future endeavours.

Now, I would like to pass the floor to the Secretary General, then we will answer your questions.

Please, Lamberto.

Question: Minister, my question is addressed to you. For the first time the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs have issued a targeted statement pinpointing Baku as the initiator of ceasefire violations. Will this restrain Baku?

Edward Nalbandian: You are right, this is the first time when the Co-Chairs pinpointed that it was Azerbaijan who violated the ceasefire agreement, started the fire, with all the ensuing consequences. Azerbaijan opposes the establishment of investigation mechanism specifically for the reason of preventing the Co-Chairs from pinpointing through the relevant mechanism the initiator of ceasefire violation and the side who started the fire. Meanwhile, that is obvious even without the mechanism. And the latest statement of the Co-Chairs showed and proved that.

However, this is not the first targeted statement. There were numerous targeted statements addressed to Azerbaijan that it should not escalate the situation, should reaffirm the commitment to peaceful settlement of the issue, should refrain from criticising the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries and respect their mandate, should refrain from attempting to shift the settlement of the issue into other formats, should agree to the establishment of investigation mechanism, etc. This list can go on.

Even if statements were not targeted, it was obvious whom they were addressed to. Like, when it was said that the sides should respect the 1994-1995 ceasefire agreements, it was clear whom it was addressed to, since the Armenian sides - both Armenia and Artsakh - have always stood for respecting and fully implementing trilateral ceasefire agreements, which have no time limitation. It was Azerbaijan who on numerous occasions questioned the validity of those agreements. The Co-Chairs not only through statements, through official letters as well, have reaffirmed on numerous occasions that those trilateral agreements have no time limitation and should be strictly adhered to and respected either by Artsakh or Azerbaijan or Armenia. So, it is clear that it is addressed specifically to Azerbaijan.

Though such statements have been repeatedly made, however Azerbaijan continues not only to ignore, disregard them, but does just the opposite. Maybe this results in a situation when the Co-Chair countries as a format, which have the international mandate for mediation and efforts aimed at the settlement of the issue, should not only issue statements, but also undertake relevant specific steps in order to restrain this provocative and destructive policy of Azerbaijan.

Question: Minister, will the Co-Chairs visit Armenia in near future and will there be a regional visit or not?

Edward Nalbandian: We expect that in ten days the Co-Chairs will be in Yerevan. They also expressed willingness to visit Stepanakert. But I cannot say whether in Azerbaijan they will be ready to receive the Co-Chairs during that period or not.

Question: My questions is addressed to Minister Nalbandian. Two days ago the President of Azerbaijan Aliyev once again proclaimed that the Nagorno-Karabakh issue will be settled only within the framework of territorial integrity. What is your approach to such statements?

Edward Nalbandian
: My approach is the same as in the case of other claims voiced in that statement, that allegedly Azerbaijan is a global center of multiculturalism, where all the fundamental freedoms and human rights are respected, that allegedly it is a country of tolerance and it can set an example for other countries. All these claims are absurd. That is the approach we have.

You know well that the international community through the Co-Chairs has repeatedly stated that the issue should be settled on the basis of three well-known principles that constitute an integrated whole - non use of force or threat of use of force, right of self-determination and territorial integrity, as well as on the basis of the elements presented in the well-known five statements of the Presidents of the Co-Chair countries, which also constitute an integrated whole.

Questions: Minister, whether a meeting between Presidents or Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan either in a tete-a-tete format or with involvement of the mediators is envisaged in near future?

Edward Nalbandian:
Armenia has always been in favour and never against meetings either at the level of Presidents or Foreign Ministers. When the time comes, and I mean it in a way that such kind of meetings require proper preparation, especially those at the level of Presidents, then it will be possible to hold such meeting.

Meetings at the level of Ministers also serve that purpose. As I have mentioned, the Co-Chairs are planning to visit the region soon. Maybe that issue will also be discussed, if there is a need and if such a proposal of future meetings is made. I think, at the moment we can only speak about the meeting at the level of Ministers in order to prepare, to carry out the relevant work, thus making it possible to organise a meeting at the level of Presidents as well.

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