Remarks by Edward Nalbandian on the outcome of negotiations with Jean Asselborn, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of Luxembourg

27 March, 2018

Dear Mr. Asselborn,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am glad to welcome Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of Luxembourg and my good friend Jean Asselborn in Yerevan. This is not the first time for Mr. Asselborn to be in Yerevan. We also have had many opportunities to meet in Luxembourg or at various international conferences. This visit is a good opportunity to continue our discussions with regards to a wide range of issues of bilateral agenda as well as international and regional issues of mutual interest.

This morning Mr. Asselborn started his visit from Tsitsernakaberd, where he paid tribute to the memory of victims of the Armenian Genocide. Taking the opportunity, I would like to reiterate our appreciation for the valuable contribution of Luxembourg to the cause of preventing genocides and crimes against humanity, manifested, in particular, through the recognition of the Armenian Genocide in 2015 as well as the continued support of international prevention efforts.

Today the President of the Republic of Armenia will receive the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Luxembourg. Within the framework of the visit Mr. Asselborn will also meet with the President-Elect, deliver a lecture at the Diplomatic School of the Foreign Ministry of Armenia.

With the Foreign Minister of Luxembourg we will attend the opening of the office of Honorary Consul of Luxembourg in Armenia. I hope this will be the first step in ensuring the permanent presence of Luxembourg in our country.

During the meeting we touched upon the issues related to development of bilateral ties. Taking into account the great experience of Luxembourg in the areas of banking, finance and insurance, I think it would be important to organize business forums to boost our trade-economic relations. The agenda of our meeting included issues related to the expansion of legal framework, holding regular consultations between the Foreign Ministries, strengthening the cooperation within the framework of international platforms, particularly, the UN, OSCE and Council of Europe.

We both highlighted the importance of cooperation within the framework of the International Organization of La Francophonie. In this context I would like to thank Luxembourg and personally Mr. Asselborn for the unconditional and principled support of the initiative to hold the 17th Summit of La Francophonie in Armenia, rendered during the previous Summit in Antananarivo.

Certainly, we touched upon the preparations for the Summit of La Francophonie. I would also like to say that we will be able to continue our negotiations during the working dinner and later tonight.

With the Foreign Minister of Luxembourg, which is a founding member of the European Union, we, of course, discussed the issues related to the Armenia-European Union cooperation and touched upon the opportunities provided by the signing of the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement.

We touched upon inter-parliamentary ties, the activities of friendship groups operating in our legislative bodies.

I briefed my colleague on the joint efforts of the Armenia and the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries aimed at exclusively peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

Now, I am pleased to pass the floor to Foreign Minister Asselborn.

Question. Mr. Nalbandian, Aliyev continues to claim that after the presidential elections in Azerbaijan an active negotiation phase will be launched based on the so-called "creative" ideas of the Co-Chairs. Would you clarify what is he speaking about, what creative ideas those are?

Edward Nalbandian: Before that Baku claimed that so-called meaningful, substantive, logical negotiations should be held, as if so far the negotiations have been neither substantial nor logical. If so, then why did the president of that country participated in more than two dozen high-level meetings if they were meaningless, non-substantial and illogical?

Now, after successfully completing the "substantial and logical phase of negotiations," they moved to a new phase, which will allegedly continue on the basis of some creative proposals of the Co-Chairs. What kind of creativity do they talk about? Is it a creativity stemming from, to put it mildly, not very healthy imagination of Azerbaijan?

Such creativity has been manifested when our 2800 years old capital Yerevan, and other regions of Armenia were claimed as historical territories of Azerbaijan. Or another well known display of Baku's creativity - the permanent threat of force. Perhaps they have invented a new trick to explain why they reject the proposals made by the Co-Chair countries at the highest level, the well-known principles and elements contained in their five statements, which has been elaborated as an integrated whole. Perhaps in Baku they consider that these proposals have not been creative enough, not been inventive, but primitive and trivial.

Baku reserves the right to evaluate which proposals are creative, which are not, expecting that these proposals would become acceptably creative for them.

The reality is that they have to get rid of such unrealistic linguistic exercises and return to a constructive field, to fulfill, first of all, their commitments and to respect the agreements reached at the meetings.

At the last meeting in Krakow when upon the Co-Chairs' proposal we’ve reached an agreement on expanding the capacities of the team of the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, and it was announced both by the Co-Chair countries and Armenia. Until now, Azerbaijan refuses to respect and implement these agreements or even make reference to them.

And not only in Krakow, it happened repeatedly even before that. Maybe Azerbaijan is unable to return to the constructive field, then Azerbaijan should be brought back to constructive field.

Question. Minister, last weekend, the UN Human Rights Council adopted the Resolution on the prevention of Genocide, initiated by Armenia. What is the reason for initiating this resolution?

Edward Nalbandian: First of all I would like to say, that it is very symbolic that after surviving the genocide, the danger of annihilation our people revived and is considered by the international community today as a pioneer in world efforts aimed at prevention of new genocides and crimes against humanity.

This year our initiative was dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the Convention on the Prevention of Genocide, adopted on 9 December in 1948. You know that Raphael Lemkin is one of the authors of that convention. Back in 1944, he coined the term genocide, making reference to the Armenian Genocide.

And it is not a coincidence, that within the framework of this anniversary, this year on December 9, the day the Convention was adopted, as a follow up to this new resolution adopted by the Human Rights Council in Geneva, we will hold in Armenia a Global Forum dedicated to the prevention of genocides. This last resolution adopted in Geneva reaffirms the provisions of the Convention, which is very important from the prevention perspective. It emphasizes that impunity and denialism stand as obstacles for the prevention.

Let me remind you that back in 2015, we have also initiated a resolution on genocide prevention, which has been adopted in Geneva. In this context, I would like to express special gratitude to my colleague, the Foreign Minister of Luxembourg for the support that has been rendered to the adoption of these resolutions. This time also, as in 2015, Luxembourg co-sponsored the resolution. As of today, already 56 countries have joined Armenia as co-sponsors, and the resolution has been adopted by a consensus. It is still open for other countries to join as co-sponsors. I think a number of other countries will join in the coming days.

Let me also remind that due to our initiative in 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution designating December 9, the day of adoption of the Convention, as the commemoration day of the victims of genocides and crimes against humanity.

As I have already mentioned, this year in December we will also organize a Global Forum in Armenia, the main topic of which will be the raising awareness of the Convention through the education. I think in this sense, of course, the international community has still a lot to do, since even 100 years after the Armenian Genocide, 70 years after the adoption of the Convention, until today crimes against humanity still occur, and of course, this is a big problem for all mankind. In this regard, Armenia will continue its efforts together with the international community, partner countries and international structures.

I thank you.

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