Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan’s interview to Sputnik International

01 November, 2020

Question: Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev has recently said that the statement made by the parties upon the completion of negotiations in Moscow implies the withdrawal of Armenian forces from Nagorno-Karabakh, adding that Baku expects that a schedule for the withdrawal of Armenian servicemen will be presented. How do you assess such statements of Azerbaijan's President? Is Yerevan ready to discuss with Baku the schedule for the Armenian troop pullout from the Nagorno-Karabakh region?

Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: These days President Aliyev made so many deceptive and controversial statements which don’t deserve to be commented on. The Joint statement of October 10 is there, it was reconfirmed also on October 10 and October 25 and there is nothing agreed beyond that text. 

Question. Do you regard the deployment of the Russian military observers as an efficient measure of ensuring the implementation of the ceasefire?

Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: Armenia has been always supportive of the idea of permanent ceasefire monitoring which was introduced in the peace process by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs immediately after the 2016 April escalation. Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed to the expansion of the OSCE monitoring team and ceasefire investigation mechanism. However, later on Azerbaijan refused to implement this agreement. This indicates that neither yesterday nor today Azerbaijan is interested in a sustainable and verifiable ceasefire. Our position is unchanged and we support deployment of observers.

Question: During your recent visit to Moscow you have mentioned that “quite substantial” consultations are ongoing between Armenia and Azerbaijan on the creation of the ceasefire verification mechanisms in Nagorno-Karabakh in accordance with the agreements reached in Russia's capital. At what stage are currently these talks, and when do you expect these mechanisms to be established? What are the obstacles that stall the process? Does Armenia consider holding a meeting with Azerbaijan on the ceasefire verification mechanisms in Moscow in the near future, and if yes, what is the approximate date?

Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: On October 10 foreign ministers of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed in Moscow the joint statement which through its subsequent articles presents itself as a road map for its implementation. Thus the first three articles, which envisage cessation of fire, elaboration of parameters of ceasefire, exchange of bodies and PoW should be unconditionally and immediately implemented.

The main diverging issue at the negotiations was reluctance of Azerbaijan to commit itself to a sustainable and verifiable ceasefire. Azerbaijan has been refusing to establish verification mechanisms in line with its longstanding position of avoiding sustainable ceasefire and keeping room for blame game. 

Question: According to various reports, a new group of Syrian militants is due to be deployed to Nagorno-Karabakh through Turkey. At the same time, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan keeps refuting such claims. Do you have any information or evidence on the planned dispatch of new fighters from Syria to Nagorno-Karabakh?

Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: There is overwhelming factual evidence on the presence and ongoing transfer of foreign terrorist fighters by Turkey from Syria and Libya, which is confirmed by the intelligence of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairing countries and coverage from the conflict zone itself. 

No one can assert that Turkey has been acting as an impartial or neutral player in the context of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, including Turkey itself.

Turkey views this conflict as an opportunity to project its power in yet another neighbouring region - the South Caucasus - and this attitude of exploiting conflict and inflicting enormous human suffering on peoples of the region for the sake of power projection should be countered not encouraged. 

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