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Press conference

Remarks and answers to the questions of journalists by Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian during the joint press conference with Foreign Minister of Bosnia and Herzegovina Igor Crnadak

30.08.2017

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am glad to welcome in Armenia Igor Crnadak, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This is the first high-level visit from Bosnia and Herzegovina to Armenia.

This year we mark the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Armenia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. Unfortunately, during these twenty years, not much has been done. I hope that this visit will provide an opportunity to open a new page in developing, deepening and expanding our relations.

Today we signed the first bilateral legal document, the Agreement between the Government of the Republic of Armenia and the Council of Ministers of Bosnia and Herzegovina on Visa Exemption for Holders of Diplomatic Passports. I hope that in the future we will have an opportunity to establish a visa free regime for all our citizens.

Today we also discussed the elaboration of documents to be signed during our next meetings, in order to create a legal framework for our relations.

We also discussed issues related to the holding of political dialogue and consultations between the two Foreign Ministries, the cooperation between the two countries within international institutions, the establishment and development of inter-parliamentary relations, possibilities of creation of friendship groups within the parliaments of the two countries.

We also talked about the prospects of advancement of trade and economic ties. There are almost no economic relations. The current figures are very small. However, I think, the potential is quite big, and we can do much more to develop the cooperation in this field and implement mutual projects for the benefit of the two countries.

We also discussed various regional and international issues. I informed my colleague about the joint efforts undertaken by Armenia and the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries for the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. We share the conviction that the efforts of the Co-Chair countries aimed at exclusively peaceful settlement based on the norms and principles of the international law should be supported.

Now I am gladly passing the floor to my colleague.

Please, Igor.

***

I would like to say that I accept with pleasure my colleague's invitation to visit Bosnia and Herzegovina and I think that I will pay that visit by the end of this year.

Question: Mr. Nalbandian, Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan stated that his country is ready to engage in substantive negotiations on the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement based on the proposals of the Co-Chairs, given that Armenia accepts those proposals. How would you comment on that? Thank you.

Edward Nalbandian: I don't think anything new was said. Azerbaijan continues its attempts to mislead the international community.

Baku claims that allegedly it is ready to engage in substantive negotiations. What does the term “substantive” mean? It means something that “has substance”, something that is “meaningful”. Hence, does Baku suppose that twenty meetings on the level of presidents, more than four dozen meetings on the level of Foreign Ministers and numerous meetings with the Co-Chairs - all those meetings held during only the last ten years were non-substantive and meaningless? Is this the case according to Azerbaijan?

First, if Azerbaijan indeed accepts the proposals of the Co-Chairs and is ready to move towards the settlement based on them, then it should confirm and prove in practice its commitment to the settlement of the conflict based on the very principles proposed by the Co-Chair countries. You know which principles we are talking about, they have been reiterated many times. Those three principles are non-use of force or threat of use of force, equal rights and self-determination of peoples and territorial integrity.

The Co-Chairs have repeatedly stated about it, including through the statements made at the Presidential level. Armenia shares the view of the Co-Chair countries. Meanwhile, Azerbaijan rejects those principles, moreover, it even refuses to join the international documents, which merely make a reference to those three principles.

Second, if Azerbaijan really wants to move towards the settlement of the conflict based on the proposals of the Co-Chairs, it has to reaffirm and practically implement what they propose - the exclusively peaceful settlement of the conflict, and must strictly respect and implement the ceasefire agreements of 1994-1995. Armenia shares the position of the Co-Chair countries. While Azerbaijan rejects the calls made by the Co-Chairs to reaffirm these commitments. And, of course, Azerbaijan should implement, not oppose to the agreements reached during the Summits in Vienna and St. Petersburg.

Third, in its last statement Azerbaijan once again referred to the four UN Security Council Resolutions of 1993, that Baku cherishes so much. It’s not accidental that in their statements the Co-Chair countries don’t make any references to those resolutions. Why? Because the main goal of those resolutions was the cessation of hostilities. It was Azerbaijan’s fault that the war did not stop then, since Baku refused to respect the Resolutions and continued military actions that stopped only by the May 1994 ceasefire agreement. As you know, it was signed by Azerbaijan, Nagorno-Karabakh and Armenia. That agreement has no time limitations. The Co-Chair countries have repeatedly urged to unconditionally respect and adhere to that agreement.

Fourth, if the Azerbaijani side is indeed ready to continue the negotiations based on the proposals made by the Co-Chair countries, then it should refrain from making references only to those elements, which it likes, and moreover, it should not present them in a distorted manner.

There are five, not three statements of the heads of the Co-Chair countries that outline the principles and elements which serve as the basis for the settlement of the conflict. The Co-Chairs have reiterated on numerous occasions that there could not be a hierarchy between these principles and elements, there could not be a selective approach to them. They have been presented as an integrated whole and any attempt to prioritize one of them over the others will make it impossible to reach a settlement.

Armenia agrees with the Co-Chair countries, while Azerbaijan makes references only to one or two elements, and as I said, in a distorted manner.

Of course, this is not something new. The Azerbaijani side merely tries, so to speak “to put a good face during a bad game,” however they fail at it as well.

Armenia together with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs will continue its efforts aimed at exclusively peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue.

If Baku wants to join in that effort, then I will conclude with what I have started. Azerbaijan must reaffirm its commitment to the three principles of international law proposed by the Co-Chair, namely: the non-use of force or threat of use of force, equal rights and self-determination of peoples and territorial integrity.

Question: Mr. Nalbandian, my question is addressed to you. A few days ago, Richard Hoagland, former Co-Chairman representing United States, announced the six elements, as a basis for the Nagorno Karabakh conflict settlement. After that, you stated that this is not something new. Hoagland’s statement reads, that “the occupied territories should be returned to Azerbaijan.” I want to know specifically which territories he refers to, the return of how many regions is being negotiated, and whether the Armenian side is ready to continue negotiations on that basis, if they resume, of course?

Edward Nalbandian: If you would have paid closer attention to my comment on Hoagland's statement (by the way, journalists have already approached me twice with this question) then you would have seen that I had already responded to it in a detailed manner. I mentioned, that, in general, there is nothing new in Hoagland's statement. Why “in general”? Because perhaps the statement of Ambassador Hoagland made before leaving his post may not fully correspond to the statements of the Co-Chair countries. The approaches of the mediators are reflected in the statements of the Co-Chairing Ambassadors, the Foreign Ministers and the Presidents of the Co-Chair countries. And those should be considered as the position of the Co-Chairs.

We, Armenia, have stated that we are ready to continue negotiations based on the proposals enshrined in five statements of the Presidents of the Co-Chair countries on the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement, which were reaffirmed last December by the Foreign Ministers of the Co-Chair countries.

This is the essence. I have already made a detailed comment on Hoagland's statement. There is nothing new to add.

 

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