Interview of the Foreign Minister of Armenia Ararat Mirzoyan to "Armenpress" news agency28 November, 2022
Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia Ararat Mirzoyan gave an interview to "Armenpress" news agency presented below.
Question: Azerbaijan stated that the Armenian side has refused to participate in a trilateral meeting in Brussels. How would you comment on that?
Answer: During the quadrilateral meeting held in Prague, an agreement has been reached regarding the next meeting. We continue to adhere to this agreement and again express our readiness to arrange a meeting of the Prime Minister of Armenia, the President of Azerbaijan, the President of France and the President of the European Council within an acceptable time frame.
We believe that the meeting held in Prague in this format was quite effective and important in the context of the process of normalisation of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The Armenian side, as before, is interested in the normalisation of relations.
Question: Baku is once again raising the thesis about the delimitation process based on historical maps. What is the position of Yerevan in this regard?
Answer: Such statements violate the commitment undertaken in Prague and Sochi to carry out delimitation between the two countries based on the UN Charter and the Alma-Ata Declaration.
Under this commitment, delimitation should be carried out on the basis of the legal acts that existed at the time of the collapse of the USSR in 1991 and had legal force and significance, moreover, on the basis of the official documents of the bodies authorised to carry out mapping, draw up maps and publish them as of the same date. Accordingly, the discussion about historical maps is at least incomprehensible, both in terms of definition and content.
It should also be emphasised that the general rhetoric on historical maps is dangerous for the independence of our countries, because if we focus on historical maps, it may turn out that the current territories of both the Republic of Armenia and even more so the Republic of Azerbaijan have been the territories of other countries for centuries.
In this context, I would like to draw attention to one more point: although following the meetings both in Sochi on November 26, 2021, and Brussels on April 6, 2022, it was agreed that the establishment of the commissions is primarily aimed at border security. Following the establishment of respective commissions, in September 2022, a new aggression was unleashed against the Republic of Armenia and new territories were occupied by Azerbaijan, which challenges not only the agreements reached and Baku's commitment to respect international law, but also its intentions towards the work of these commissions in general.
Question: The President of Azerbaijan claims that Armenia has recognized the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.
Answer: We have touched upon this question many times. However, ceaselessly mentioning in his speeches that Armenia has recognized the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, the President of Azerbaijan never states that Azerbaijan has also recognized the territorial integrity of Armenia. Do this fact and the mentioning of various "historical" maps mean that Azerbaijan is not recognizing the territorial integrity of Armenia and has aspirations towards the territories of the Republic of Armenia?
The President of Azerbaijan also states that peace has been established around his country and there is no danger of escalation, then, in response to another question, he states that if Armenia does not sign the peace treaty, there will be no peace. This means that at this point the responsibility of any possible escalation is taken by the president of Azerbaijan especially since Armenia is fully involved in substantive discussions on establishing peace.
Question: How would you evaluate the ongoing work on the preparation of the peace agreement?
Answer: As you know, we have presented our proposals to Azerbaijan regarding the normalisation of relations or the draft peace treaty and we just received their answers yesterday. So the discussions are ongoing. We hope to reach an agreement on this issue as soon as possible, and the mediation efforts of our international partners can also play an important role in this process.
Question: Azerbaijan also states that Armenia refuses to provide accurate maps of minefields and continues laying new mines in the regions adjacent to Nagorno-Karabakh, resulting in many casualties. How would you comment on this?
Answer: As you know, the Republic of Armenia has unilaterally handed over to Azerbaijan all available maps of minefields, despite the lack of such commitment both within the framework of trilateral agreements and international law. Moreover, we have expressed readiness to support the decoding of the transferred maps in cooperation with international partners.
At the same time, it should be emphasised that mines were laid in Nagorno-Karabakh and neighbouring regions during the first Karabakh war, and this was mainly carried out by Azerbaijan, which controlled these areas during the first war. Calls for cooperation from the Armenian side remained unanswered. Additionally, Azerbaijan created obstacles to the mine clearance works by all possible means. In 2017, Azerbaijan even blocked the activities of the OSCE office in Yerevan as a result of the manipulating the issue of assistance to Armenia in this sphere.
The 2019, the report of the International Committee of the Red Cross recorded that during the mission implementation, 747 people became victims of mines in Nagorno-Karabakh, 59 per cent of whom were civilians, and, this in the case that the authorities of Nagorno-Karabakh started calculating the number of victims from mine explosions only since 2004.
Regarding Azerbaijan's declarations that the Armenian side has placed Armenian-made mines in Nagorno-Karabakh, I must underline that the mines displayed by Azerbaijan were found not in Nagorno-Karabakh, but in the sovereign territories of Armenia occupied in 2021-22 and they now are trying to use these mines for propaganda purposes. We do not deny that the Armed Forces of Armenia carry out mine-laying works in the sovereign territory of Armenia and this is due to the constant high risk of new military aggressions by Azerbaijan, which we have witnessed in May and November 2021, as well as in September 2022.
During this period, Azerbaijan also carried out similar aggressions in Nagorno-Karabakh, particularly in this February and August, thereby proving that the population of Nagorno-Karabakh needs self-defence forces in order to avoid ethnic cleansing.
As for the accusations coming from Azerbaijan that units of the Armed Forces of Armenia continue to be deployed in Nagorno-Karabakh: this also does not correspond to reality in any way. In order to verify the authenticity of our claim, Prime Minister Pashinyan even offered to send an international fact-finding mission to Nagorno-Karabakh, which was rejected by President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev.
Question: How do you generally assess the current situation in the region?
Answer: Regretfully, we have to note that despite the ongoing negotiations in different dimensions, Azerbaijan's maximalist and warmongering statements, groundless accusations against the Armenian side and threats to use force do not stop. In addition, the Azerbaijani armed forces remain deployed in the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia, while repeatedly carrying out provocative military actions.
The combination of these facts shows that the situation remains extremely tense, and all our international partners must make additional efforts to curb Azerbaijan's ambitions and preserve the fragile peace in the South Caucasus.
Armenia, as before, is ready to make all efforts to find mutually acceptable solutions and to establish a long-lasting and stable peace in the region.