Statement by Foreign Minister of Armenia Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and answers to the questions of journalists at the joint press conference with Miroslav Lajčák, Foreign Minister of Slovakia and the OSCE Chairperson in Office13 March, 2019
I am very glad to welcome today my colleague, the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and Foreign Minister of Slovakia Miroslav Lajčák. Our effective cooperation started years ago, when Mr. Lajčák presided in the UN General Assembly. I would like to once again congratulate you, Mr. Lajčák, on the very successful Presidency. This is our fourth meeting in my new capacity and I am really happy that this time it takes place here in Yerevan, in Armenia.
It is noteworthy that over the last three years this is the first visit of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office to the region and it is an important political signal, while, as a result of abuse of the Organization’s consensus principle, the OSCE field missions have been closed and the OSCE presence in the South Caucasus has been minimized.
Moreover, this is the first visit of the OSCE Chairperson-in-office to Armenia following the democratic Velvet revolution in our country and the parliamentary election held in December of 2018, which received the highest positive assessment from the international community as well as from the OSCE ODIHR. We are committed to continue the mutually beneficial cooperation with our international partners aimed at promoting democratic reforms and strengthening our achievements.
Armenia is committed to cooperate with the Slovak OSCE Chairmanship in all three dimensions to advance dialogue on the urgent issues of the Organization’s agenda.
Armenia supports the priorities of the Slovak Chairmanship in the Organization related to addressing conflicts, building a safe future and an effective multilateral diplomacy. Mr. Lajčák, I most welcome the priority of your Chairmanship, which considers people as the focal point of the OSCE activities: the human being is in the center of the OSCE's activities and our cooperation.
As my colleague stated in one of his interviews, the OSCE is indeed about people living in the region. People who deserve to live in peace and security. We absolutely share this approach. Conflict settlement needs to be based on consideration of the needs, rights and the will of the people affected. In the OSCE region should not have gray zones, which remain inaccessible to international human rights organizations. Fundamental freedoms are universal and pertain to all people without any exception. This principle equally applies to the people of Artsakh.
In this regard, I would like to emphasize the importance of active involvement of civil society in the cooperation within the OSCE framework. Armenia always highlighted the importance of unrestricted participation of civil society representatives from the entire OSCE region, including from conflict zones, in the OSCE human dimension events.
We welcome the OSCE’s high assessment of Armenia’s civil society activities, which plays an important role in the advancement of democratic progress in our country.
Naturally, with my counterpart we also touched upon the steps aimed at increasing the efficiency of the OSCE and the need to address the challenges faced by the organization in a cooperative spirit. Multilateral diplomacy within the OSCE plays an important role in strengthening security and peace in the region. With this regard, we attach importance to constructive dialogue between the participating states, expression of necessary will to utilize the OSCE instruments, as well as to the support of the OSCE Chairmanship.
We also discussed issues concerning the military-political dimension of the OSCE. To ensure secure future for the people in the region, it is essential to unequivocally adhere to security and confidence-building measures and the existing regimes of conventional arms control without any political preconditions and to exclude destabilizing military actions, as well as refrain from such activities, which contribute to the arms race.
We share the approaches of the Chairmanship on promoting good governance, innovation, sustainable development, fighting against intolerance and discrimination, addressing radicalization and extremism.
As this is our fourth meeting, my colleague is well aware of Armenia’s position on the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process.
I reiterated Armenia's commitment and support to the exclusively peaceful settlement of the conflict under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, based on the fundamental principles of international law, particularly the right of peoples to self-determination. I reiterated that the security and status of Artsakh in the framework of the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict have been and remain an absolute priorities for Armenia. I reaffirmed the approach on ensuring Artsakh's decisive voice and engagement.
In the center of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict lie the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the people of Artsakh, as well as their inalienable right to freely built their future in their own motherland. It pertains to the physical and existential security of 150 000 population of Artsakh, to their right to live.
We have emphasized on numerous occasions that the effective process of the peaceful settlement of the issue requires creation of an environment conducive to peace, introduction of risk reduction and incident prevention mechanisms, and confidence-building measures, as it was set forth during the Dushanbe meeting, as well as previous meetings in Vienna and Saint Petersburg, and these provisions continue to remain substantive.
And the conduction of large-scale offensive military drills by Azerbaijan on these days very days without relevant notification, in violation of the international obligations envisaged by the OSCE instruments, do not contribute to the enhancement of security and confidence-building measures in the region, which are among the priorities of Slovak OSCE Chairmanship.
We also had an opportunity to touch upon the issues of bilateral relations between Armenia and Slovakia. We have quite an active and rich agenda, and I am very glad and grateful for the significant contribution my Slovak counterpart makes for the advancement of bilateral agenda between our states and our peoples, as well as for working together on different platforms. And I am glad for the news you have in this regard.
Now I would like to give the floor to my colleague. Once again welcome to Armenia and thank you.
National television company of Slovakia: In reality what are the relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan? And when we are talking about some official summit between the leaders in Yerevan and Baku, are we speaking about near future or any date? And also what will you say about the place? Can Bratislava be observed for this?
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: Well, I absolutely will not challenge your point about Bratislava being a very good place for all kinds of engagements for pleasurable visit and for formal work. On this matter, yes, we have reiterated our commitment to continue working within the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship. And I think we have already demonstrated our seriousness of purpose, since May 2018 we have been very active in re-engagement. My colleague Miroslav has also recalled the number of meetings we had at the level of Foreign Ministers, the meetings that took place at the level of leaders of our countries. You know that during these meetings we have elaborated on the positions and on the understanding of each other, so this dynamic is very important.
We very much support, we absolutely support the OSCE Minsk group Co-Chairmanship, as the format within which our work is taking place and with that rational we are walking to the next phases. You know that we have been very elaborate about certain positions and our approaches and we are moving towards such new phases of meetings and negotiations in a constructive spirit. On the specifics of the meeting, of course, there is such important cultural block, that we coordinate very carefully with OSCE Minsk group co-chairmanship and then announce the meeting in a synchronised way.
Sputnik Armenia: My question is addressed to Mr. Lajčák. As the OSCE Chairperson-in-office you are promoting peace in the region, but you are also the Foreign Minister of Slovakia, a country whose armament appeared in Azerbaijan, even though that country was not mentioned in the end-user certificate, thus contributing to the arms race in the region. Apparently, no steps have been taken towards clarifying situation with the end-user certificate. As the OSCE Chairperson-in-office and the Foreign Minister of Slovakia, what steps are you going to take in this direction? Thank you.
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: On my part I would probably add that this question was on our bilateral agenda and more attention should be given to this issue as we do not welcome arms race in the region and we are quite sensitive to these kind of issues. I thank my colleague Miroslav, that we were able to engage in a such dialogue and voice our sensitivities towards such issues so that we will also have our contribution the process aimed at preventing arms race.
This has been and remains on our agenda not only as a question referring to a particular case, but in a broader context as well; working together bilaterally, and also in the broader level to be more sensitive towards such situations. And I am thankful to Miroslav that he quite actively got involved in this question so that we could discuss and understand the issue. Thank you.
Para TV. My question refers to the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Nikol Pashinyan mentions that the Madrid Principles should be reconsidered. If they are reconsidered, don’t you think the currently fragile process of negotiations will appear in a deadlock?
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: As I can see from your question, you somehow comment the Prime Minister’s remarks delivered yesterday. Your question refers to that, doesn’t it?
The Prime Minister touched upon the three principles and six elements and, in my opinion, the Prime Minister was quite clear in his statement. It was about the interpretations and distinct interpretations and we should not pursue the engagement in vocal dispute but rather clarify the approaches of all sides in terms of perceptions and interpretations on the meaning of three principles and six elements. I think that the Prime Minister showed no signal to be perceived as reconsidering, he evinced a more important signal: we need to work to exclude such interpretations, approaches and perceptions which make that package one-sided and create issues regarding its perception and meaning.
The issue is about perceptions and how close the perceptions of the sides regarding this package are. In my opinion, the Prime Minister has quite clearly reflected on it and it is difficult to add anything. I hope that you will be able to read once again and understand what our major emphasis is, i.e. to which extent we can avoid disagreements and disputes concerning the package.