Joint press conference of Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the RA and Carmelo Abela, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade Promotion of Malta

27 June, 2019

Good afternoon, everyone.

I apologize for a little delay but this also shows that our countries have quite a rich agenda to discuss together and quite a serious intention to develop relations between our two countries and two peoples.

I am indeed very happy to welcome today my counterpart Carmelo Abela, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade promotion of Malta. Once again welcome to Armenia, Carmelo. It’s not my colleague's first visit to Armenia, he already visited Armenia in October to participate in the La Francophonie Summit. We also had an occasion to meet at the Munich Security Conference where we signed a protocol which gives an opportunity to have more active political dialogue, and Carmelo's visit attests to it. 

We have an intention to further deepen our bilateral political dialogue, which includes quite a rich agenda in different directions. Armenia and Malta are small countries, and, of course, the logic behind our relations is based on the solidarity of small countries.

Malta is an EU member-state, and the EU's agenda occupies an important place in our agenda. We had an opportunity to discuss numerous topics of the Armenia-EU agenda. In this regard I want to once again thank Malta for ratifying the EU-Armenia Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement. Matla was among the first ones to ratify it last September. We also spoke about the issue of accelerating the launch of visa liberalization dialogue, and I am also very grateful that Malta has a very positive approach on this matter. We also touched upn many other issues of the Armenia-EU agenda. 

We have specifically focused on the bilateral agenda, and in this regard we must acknowledge that our trade turnover is not that impressive, but at the same time we managed to identify a lot of fields of mutual interest. It refers to the development agenda of Armenia and those spheres, where we can benefit  from the bilateral cooperation. Malta has its very important, interesting and quite impressive experience in development agenda. Indeed, the examples of high technology, innovation and smart development and the experience we have in those areas represent a good ground for cooperation with Malta, which has its very impressive expertise.

We discussed other fields as well, including the "smart agriculture", activity in the agricultural and other fields, that refer to connectivity - how to connect our countries. We hope that we will be able to have seasonal direct flights as well, and in this regard I think we can register a result. 

We already have a well-formed ground for working in the fields of culture, education, science. We have more impressive results in the field of culture. You know, Valletta, the capital of Malta, is quite an important cultural centre in Europe and in the world. Armenia had the opportunity to make its contribution to Valletta's cultural life, and we had quite an impressive concert dedicated to Aram Khachatryan’s 115th anniversary. Our beloved conductor Sergey Smbatyan is also a conductor in Malta’s philharmonic orchestra. We have a very talented conductor in Malta, who is our compatriot - Dmitry Ishkhanov. Here in Armenia we held Malta’s cultural days, and that occasion also served as a very good basis to strengthen the ties between our two nations through culture. 

Our relations are based on universal and European values and have quite a long civilizational history. Historically we have known each other for a long time- since the Middle ages. Indeed it serves as a solid basis for actively developing our interstate relations.

We also touched upon different issues of international agenda. We cooperate together in multilateral platforms, including the UN. Different issues of international agenda, that directly concern us and our security agenda, were also a subject of discussion. We, of course, touched upon the priority issue of our security agenda- the issue of peaceful resolution of Nagorno Karabakh conflict, and exchanged thoughts on this as well. I had an opportunity to present Armenia’s approaches and position in that regard. We also had a discussion on other topics and will still have an occasion to carry on. All of this manifests that we don’t have lack of agenda issues and we intend to maintain the frequency of our meetings and the regularity of our dialogue. This shows the inclusiveness our agenda and the seriousness of our intention to deepen and strengthen relations between our two nations and states to the benefit of our people. 

Once again, Carmelo, welcome to Armenia. I am glad to host you in Armenia. Welcome, and the floor is yours. 

Thank you. 

Para TV. Mr. Mnatsakanyan, I would like to ask you to elaborate more on the details of the meeting between you and Mammadyarov. In his conversation with media he noted that the documents were presented by the Co-Chairs and mentioned that those documents are being negotiated for already 15 years, and emphasized that they should be clarified, and the Co-Chairs should make clarifications. What will you say in this regard? Mammadyarov notes that they stand for the step-by-step approach. Would you please comment on this?

Zohrab Mnatsakanyan. Thank you for the question. I am sure that you are well aware of Co-Chairs’ announcement, as well as the interview my colleague, Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan Elmar Mammadyarov have to “Azertac” agency on June 24. And in this regard, I am sure you understand that in his interview he touches upon our meeting held in Washington D.C. And on my part, I would say that we have actually discussed quite a wide range of issues based on the dialogue which we had before the meeting in Washington D.C., and we had quite a broad range of issues. 

Notably, the meeting was held under the conditions when we had some increase of tension before the meeting, and of course, it had some impact. Naturally, we paid much attention to it in our discussions and discussed all the steps need to be taken to reduce the tension, avoid any additional developments which would increase the tension. We need to go back to the situation before the tension, it is very important. We have several initiatives brought forward by the Co-Chairs. I think that in this regard we will be able to reach the situation, when ahead of the next meeting we will be able to register that we can maintain an environment conducive to peace. 

You remember very well that the environment conducive to peace is one of the high priority issues. That environment includes two important components, one of which is people to people contacts, decrease of rhetoric and creating an environment where the hatred cannot develop.

Another component is that we must continue our efforts aimed at reducing risks of escalation. That is also a system which contains different functions. We have a situation based on Dushanbe arrangements, and this remains a priority issue for us. Dushanbe should become also a “Dushanbe plus”, because the situation and the tension demonstrated that it can lead to an absolutely wrong direction. In this regard, the situation when we have casualties, when we have ceasefire violations, indeed outlines the importance of the functions, such as, the mechanism of investigation of ceasefire violations and strengthening of monitoring capabilities. St. Petersburg and Vienna are about it.Those substantial tools are vital for us, the idea of those tools exists and we need to work on that towards one important goal - to maintain an environment conducive to peace. This is essential for us in the sense that we do not believe and do not accept that it is possible to have effective, practical progress in the process when the situation is strained. 

We do not believe that it is possible to negotiate with one hand and to shoot with the other. That approach has no future, and we have stated repeatedly and I would repeat once again that the language of threat does not work in the negotiation process. There can’t be a situation when we will negotiate under the threat. Nothing like that can happen. Let me repeat - our self-confidence is strong, and in this regard, we won't succumb to a threat, and the language of threat will not succeed. At the same time we want to strengthen the elements that contribute to the efficiency of the negotiation process. 

The next point is related to ensuring effectiveness of the negotiation process - that is the question of Artsakh’s participation. It first of all strengthens the effectiveness of the process because Artsakh should have and enhance its sense of ownership over the peace process. We have spoken about it on numerous occasions, this issue is also on the agenda we discussed.

Finally, we naturally have questions that relate to the details of the peace process and in that respect there are different approaches that we have discussed during the consultations in Washington D.C. Nevertheless, let me repeat again, an environment conducive to peace process is a priority.

As for the more substantial issues of the peace process, you are well aware that the primary issue for us is the status and the priority of unconditional implementation of the right of self-determination by Artsakh and in that respect we also assessed different dimensions, formats and also noted that we need to prepare for that process.

I am personally satisfied that we had quite an active involvement during this year, the dynamics of meetings was high, and that is very normal, and we are intended to continue. We discussed how to continue this process and what to be done for the next steps. We have some plans outlined and again, when we will have an agreement on the announcement of the next meeting, of course, we will inform about that. This are the main points.

Public TV: Mr. Mnatsakanyan, an announcement was made recently that the President of Azerbaijan, at least in the media, has noted that "we live in war conditions and it is not over yet. We're ready to liberate the occupied territories every second. " To what extent does this give additional positive impetus to the negotiations and where mutual trust lies in this context? Thank you.

Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: Let me repeat that one issue - enuring Artsakh’s physical existential security - has been an absolute priority for us, from which the issue of status derives. No results can be reached through the language of threat, the use of threat. We will welcome the rhetoric that is conducive to real, practical progress. Thank you. 

RFERL/RL: Minister, we have learned from Ruben Rubinyan’s post that you had a meeting with the Ambassador of Russian Federation regarding the cases of Robert Kocharyan and March 1. In this respect it is interesting: what are the concerns of the Armenian side and what are the interests of the Russian side about the March 1 case?

Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: First of all, I should say that Armenia and Russia have been and remain allies and have quite a broad and rich agenda. We are satisfied with the dialogue with the Russian Federation in different spheres in the context of deepening our allied relations. We may have matters that can have different perceptions in our bilateral agenda and receive different assessments, which is normal. And the discussion of those matters between the two allies does is not a problem. In that regard we have no problem to raise questions concerning some connotations of our bilateral relations. And that’s the logic behind our work with our partners, with our allied partner. That’s what I can say. Thank you. 



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