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Press conference

The remarks and answers of Foreign Minister of Armenia Edward Nalbandian to the questions of journalists at the joint press conference with Sven Mikser, Foreign Minister of Estonia

13.06.2017

Ladies and gentlemen,

I am glad to welcome in Yerevan my Estonian colleague Sven Mikser, who is in Armenia on an official visit.

Our last meeting was in December, in Hamburg, within the framework of the OSCE Ministerial Council, and today it is a good opportunity to continue the exchange of views about expanding, developing and strengthening our cooperation both on bilateral and multilateral formats.

Today, Foreign Minister of Estonia will be received by the President of the Republic of Armenia. Mr. Mikser will have meetings with the Chairman of the National Assembly and the Prime Minister. Estonian Foreign Minister started the visit by paying tribute to the Armenian Genocide Memorial.

We have had an opportunity to exchange views on expanding the legal framework. There are 13 documents signed between the two countries, today we have added the 14th, on Readmission. Seven more documents are in the preparatory stage.

We touched upon the development of inter-parliamentary relations, promotion of decentralised cooperation and expansion of trade and economic ties. Our trade turnover has not been high - about 10 million US dollars for the last year. It is a very low rate. I think our potential is much bigger. I am confident, that with joint efforts we can do much more.

We also touched upon the cooperation in the fields of culture, science and education.

We agreed to intensify our cooperation within international organisations, as well as to hold regular consultations between the two Foreign Ministries. We discussed a number of regional and international issues, such as the fight against terrorism, refugees, migration flows, which are being faced not only in Europe, but in other regions, too. We also touched upon the situation in the Middle East, particularly in Syria.

I have informed my colleague about the joint efforts of Armenia and Co-Chair countries towards the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

It is important, that Foreign Minister of Estonia visits Armenia on the eve of the Estonian EU Presidency. Estonia will assume the Presidency of the Council of the European Union on 1st of July. During that period, Armenia expects to sign a new framework document with the European Union. It is known, that we have finished the negotiations and we are going to sign it in November, in the framework of the EU Eastern Partnership Summit.

We also touched upon the issues of development of Armenia-EU cooperation in different areas. Foreign Minister Mikser presented the priorities of the Estonian EU Presidency.

Now I have a pleasure to give the floor to my colleague, and after, we will answer to your questions. Please, Sven.


Question: My question is addressed to Foreign Minister of Armenia. Minister, yesterday your Azerbaijani colleague presented his impressions from the recent meetings over the Nagorno-Karabakh issue by stating that the time has already come to change the status-quo and to start substantial negotiations based on the documents discussed in Saint Petersburg and Moscow. He also reiterated the thesis of Baku that the settlement should be based on the resolutions of the UN Security Council. What will you say in this regard?

Edward Nalbandian: From the outset, I would say that it is a matter of imagination rather than an impression. First, in Moscow the Ministers of Foreign Affairs did not negotiate on any document. The only text discussed was the text of the press release, which was agreed between the Foreign Ministers in the presence of the Co-Chairs, and was afterwards released without changes by the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Armenia and Russia. However, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan published its own version of the press release, in which they did not mention that the Ministers emphasised the importance of implementation of the agreements reached in Vienna and Saint Petersburg, but instead stated that the Ministers negotiated over the Vienna and St. Petersburg negotiations. This nonsense was published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan.

As for the claims that some document was allegedly discussed in St.Petersburg, then the issues discussed at the St. Petersburg Summit were reflected in the joint statement of Presidents of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, which included the details of what had been discussed. Following that summit Baku tried to come up with its interpretations. You know what was the reaction. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia qualified those interpretations as “perverse.” I think it is a very comprehensive assessment and I do not think that there is anything to add. This is the difference between the approaches of Armenia and Azerbaijan - we talk about facts, they talk about some impressions based on imagination.

As for the status-quo, there is an impression that the Azerbaijani officials have a special talent to focus on something and continuously repeat it, thus devaluing the meaning of what was said, especially by doing the opposite. This is true also for the status-quo. Who impedes the implementation and fails to fulfill the agreements reached during the meetings between the Presidents, Foreign Ministers, the very agreements which would allow to advance the negotiation process and change the status-quo? It is Azerbaijan. Likewise Azerbaijan speaks about the freedom of speech, protection of fundamental freedoms and human rights, while does the very opposite. A new brand has been developed by Baku - to say something but to do totally the opposite.

As for the UN Security Council resolutions. What was the rationale for the UN Security Council to adopt four resolutions? Since after each resolution adopted in 1993 Azerbaijan refused to implement them. The only aim for the adoption of those resolutions was the secession of armed hostilities. There was nothing regarding the essence of the negotiation process, those resolutions were aimed at establishing a ceasefire.

Unfortunately, Azerbaijan impeded and it became impossible to do that. Later, Azerbaijan appeared in a situation when it began pleading to sign a ceasefire agreement. As you know, in 1994 two agreements were signed, followed by another agreement on the consolidation of ceasefire signed in February 1995. However, for years Azerbaijan has been questioning even those agreements, and recently, last April, when it unleashed aggression against Artsakh, the Azerbaijani side once again tried to question the validity of those agreements. The Co-Chairs had to remind Azerbaijan, even in the written form, that those agreements are valid, their terms do not expire and the sides should strictly adhere to and implement those agreements. This is the reality, and not what the Azerbaijani leadership tries to present to its public, based on their imagination or assumptions.

Question: Mr. Minister, I have two questions. On Saturday, during the meeting with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs you mentioned that it is time for the Co-Chair countries to undertake concrete steps to restrain Azerbaijan. Do you think that it is time for the international community, the Co-Chair countries to impose sanctions against Azerbaijan, for example, for the ceasefire violations? And my second question: does Armenia undertake any steps in that direction, so that in the end the international community impose sanctions against Azerbaijan, as I said, for example for the violation of ceasefire regime? Thank you.

Edward Nalbandian: The Co-Chair countries have stated on numerous occasions and on the highest level, on the level of the Presidents, that the side which will use the force and violate the ceasefire, will be harshly condemned by the international community. And when such a statement comes from the Presidents of the Co-Chair countries, who are the permanent members of the UN Security Council - the United States, Russia, France, what does it mean? Is it merely a statement? I think not just.

Nonetheless, Azerbaijan pretends that these calls have nothing to do with it, Azerbaijan pretends that it can ignore those statements and calls. Azerbaijan spares no efforts to impede the establishment of mechanism for investigation of ceasefire violations. Although it is clear to everyone who is the initiator of the violations even without the mechanism. Simply, the Co-Chair countries are mediators, and the mediator countries are doing their utmost to be balanced to enable the continuation of the negotiations. But even the Co-Chairs were already compelled to issue targeted statements, which was the case couple of days ago, when they stated that it is Azerbaijan who violated the ceasefire, and there was a retaliation from the Armenian side. It also happened when the Co-Chairs criticized Azerbaijan urging it to refrain from the attempts to shift the discussions on the settlement into other formats and to cease criticism directed against the Co-Chair countries and to agree to the establishment of mechanism for investigation of ceasefire violations, as was done by Armenia and Artsakh.

Targeted statements have been issued on numerous occasions. But how many statements still should be issued so that it becomes clear that statements alone are not enough, and that the international community should undertake all the steps as implied by this notion of “will be harshly condemned” in order to curb Azerbaijan’s continuous attempts to destabilise the situation in the region with all its consequences not only for the region, but in a much broader context?

I think the international community is finally coming to exactly this understanding that relevant steps should be undertaken towards the country which is against peace, always threatens to use force and to solve the issue through the military means.

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