Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan's briefing with journalists following the meeting with Artsakh President Bako Sahakyan

04 July, 2019

Question: Minister, what did you discuss with the President and what is the purpose of your visit to Artsakh?

Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: You know very well that this is one of our most important goals, to ensure the deep sense of ownership and involvement of the Artsakh authorities in the peaceful settlement process of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. This is a very important function because the issue concerns Artsakh, the security of the Artsakh people, and Artsakh as a political unit with the authorities elected by its population has a deep responsibility in this issue. Strengthening the sense of ownership in the context of the negotiation process and the process of peaceful settlement is a very important issue for all of us and the goal of today's visit is within this very context.

You know that the process of peaceful settlement, consultations and meetings are consistent and with this respect, Armenia, as a participant of this process, has never slowed down this process. It shows our serious approach towards the peaceful settlement process.

Recently we held a meeting in Washington DC. This is an ongoing process, and at this point, there was a need to have a dialogue with the Artsakh authorities, with the President of Artsakh. Tomorrow our meetings will continue in the Artsakh Foreign Ministry, and we will continue working with my colleague, Foreign Minister Masis Mayilyan in order to consolidate the sense of ownership of the Artsakh Government towards this process, evaluate the current stage and the functions that we need to elaborate and to continue working towards a peaceful settlement. I want to emphasize once again that the Nagorno-Karabakh issue has been and remains one of the most important issues for us - the existential security of the Artsakh people, from which the status of Artsakh derives. 150 thousand of our compatriots living in Artsakh today are the keepers of the identity of the entire Armenian nation, by taking into account that existential threat. Any Armenian at any corner of the world can not avoid the deepest loss, damage to our collective identity, if we witness any threat to the existential security of our compatriots in Artsakh.

Question: Mr. Mnatsakanyan, there was a comment from Artsakh about that process of informing, made by David Babayan. "We are grateful to Yerevan for informing about the details, but informing is not a political or legal category." Is the issue of a full restoration of the format of negotiations still on the agenda?

Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: You understand very well that this is an agenda issue for us and we have raised this issue, the authorities have raised this issue: Nagorno Karabakh should have full involvement because Nagorno Karabakh is a subject of this process. The one should realize that if it was an easy issue, it would have been settled long ago. This is an agenda issue that is consistently pursued because for us it is a priority issue: this is a practical issue, this is a pragmatic approach as if we assume that while talking about the efficiency of the negotiation process, the peaceful settlement process we can ignore this crucial factor that concerns the involvement of Nagorno Karabakh and the sense of ownership in the process, then, in fact, we harm efficiency of the peace process.

You also remember that we had a joint Security Council meeting held in Stepanakert, during which we all spoke extensively about this issue and expressed that we would never bring this as a precondition, but at the same time we can not ignore it.

Question: Mr. Mnatsakanyan, the meeting with the president lasted more than three hours. What questions did you discuss? What issues were outlined?

Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: I didn't even notice that it lasted for three hours, but it demonstrates the seriousness of our dialogue, that we are fully involved in the process of mutually informing, in the process of consultations and joint work. This is our common issue. And it expresses the intention we are speaking about, the intention to ensure Artsakh’s involvement in the peace process, to strengthen the sense of ownership of the Artsakh authorities. I did not notice how those hours went by, and it demonstrates that we held quite intensive comprehensive consultations. We attempted to touch upon the whole range of issues. As I said, I have a very important goal to ensure a correct understanding of the ownership. We talked about it and we also express it through our work.

Question: Recently, Azerbaijan circulated an information according to which we are talking about the need to involve Artsakh in the negotiation process, but they also raise the issue of the so-called "Azerbaijani community of Karabakh" within the context of the negotiation process.

Zohrab Mnatsakanyan. You already know the answer to your question. If the leadership of Azerbaijan does not express the interests of the community you speak about and if that community did not participate in the presidential elections of Azerbaijan and if there are such problems, I am not the one to discuss those issues.



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