Briefing of Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Artsakh Zohrab Mnatsakanyan and Masis Mayilyan with journalists05 July, 2019
Question: What documents have the Ch-Chairs handed over to Yerevan and Baku by in Washington DC, the document, after finalizing which, according to the Azerbaijani President, you will meet again…
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: According to the President of Azerbaijan?
Question: Yes, Ilham Aliyev.
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: Once again, I repeat, I take into consideration the interview f the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan to AzerTag News Agency, that has been published on June 24.
Question: What documents were handed over to you and what are they about?
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: Once again, I rely on the above-mentioned interview. your question is based on other sources.
Let me note that we talked in details about the Washington process. We have three main directions in our approach: the substance of the negotiations, the environment in which this process takes place, and the issue of Artsakh’s (Nagorno-Karabakh) full involvement and participation as the subject of this process. And all this is interconnected. We have our clear approaches and very clearly formulated positions on each issue.
With regards to Artsakh’s (Nagorno-Karabakh) full participation, this is a very important, practical and pragmatic issue for us because Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) is a subject of this process. Ensuring effective progress in the peace process becomes difficult when we do not have full participation, when we do not have Nagorno-Karabakh’s sense of ownership towards this process. This is our approach to this issue.
Second, regarding the environment, it is extremely important for us to understand that there can be no situation, as it was suggested, let’s assume that it is possible to shoot with one hand and negotiate with the other. We do not believe in that. We have repeatedly stated that the sides, Armenia and Artsakh, have enough potential to efficiently defend themselves and that the language of threats will not work. There can be no such thing. And in this respect, the reduction of risks of escalation remains an extremely important factor. The same applies to the environment in which this process takes place, including in the context of people-to-people contacts. There can be no hatred, any rhetoric of hatred, Armenophobia and there can be no assumption that it is possible to carry on with the peace process amid that.
Finally, with regard to the substance. We have clearly formulated our approach. For us, the question is about the people of Artsakh, about the existential, physical security of 150 thousand people. There is no other way to view it.
Yesterday we also had an opportunity to state that this is a problem of all Armenians because it is a matter of preservation and protection of the Armenians’ identity. And from the security issues derives the status of Nagorno-Karabakh. Our approaches are formulated within this framework. And within each of these parameters, during each negotiation, we formulate the framework in which we need to fix our priorities and move forward towards them. These are absolutely primary issues in Armenia's approach.
Question: Mr. Mnatsakanyan, the speaker of the Artsakh parliament stated that it is time to raise the issue of excluding Turkey from the OSCE Minsk Group. Do you think it is time to raise this issue?
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: For us, the primary framework in which this process takes place is the platform of the Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship, which has been and remains an effective platform where we work effectively with the Co-Chair countries.
Question: Mr. Mnatsakanyan, you mentioned about the 150 000 Artsakh people, but the first victims of the conflict are Armenian refugees from Azerbaijan and they are not 150 thousand. The issue of the rights of these peoples, the issue of their protection …
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: If you want to expand the parameters, then there are numerous parameters. I'm talking about the most important, primary problem. We have the issues of the blockade, there are many other issues related to the security of Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh and our populations, which have a different status. Naturally, they all exist, but I'm talking about the primary issues.
Question. Mr. Mnatsakanyan, is there progress on Artsakh’s return to the negotiation table? Are there any achievements to this end?
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: We have talked about this, we have expressed it and explained why we have raised this issue. For several decades we have had a certain environment, and now we brought forward our viewpoint, our approaches and explained that Nagorno-Karabakh is an established political unity whose population expresses its will through its authorities that have the mandate from the population. I do not represent that population because the Armenian government has not been granted a mandate by the population of Artsakh as they don’t participate in elections of Armenia. This is a very simple issue and by understanding that Artsakh is a political entity, which has its government formed by the people, with all the necessary mechanisms to express their will, being the subject, it cannot help but have full involvement. For years, there has been an environment, there has been a process, and if we expected that after coming forward with our viewpoint the issue would be solved immediately, then we may be exaggerating our expectations.
Question. So there is no any progress in this regard, isn’t there?
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: What do you mean by saying progress?
Question. Is there progress, have any steps been made? A year passed since Mr. Pashinyan's assumption of power.
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: Now I am talking to you, I am publicly expressing this issue, and it is expressed during the negotiations, and this debate is ongoing.
Question. Now the issue of signing a strategic alliance is being discussed. The conference was held in Artsakh, non-governmental forces started consultations in Armenia. I would like the two Foreign Ministers to clarify whether the newly signed document in any way reflects the discussions put forward by non-governmental forces in Armenia?
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: Thank you. For us, this is simply a tool, a very clear tool, a practical mechanism, because first of all, the process of peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh issues is expressed through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. And here together we pursue a very practical goal - to regulate and clarify how we work together in this process.
By the way, my friend, Mr. Mailyan mentioned that we have been in close cooperation since the very first day and are communicating not only in this way but also in all other possible ways. And we just saw the need to regulate and have that practical tool at our disposal.
Question. On June 14, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Artsakh issued a statement at departmental level raising the issue of the occupation of some parts of Shahumian, Martakert and Martuni regions by Azerbaijan. Mr. Mnatsakanyan, was this issue discussed at the meeting with Mammadyarov on June 20?
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: I gave you a set of issues that were discussed and tried to present how wide the scope of the issues is, and we do not have any limitations. We do not have any restrictions with regard to discussing, posting, putting our questions on the table, no restrictions in any way, no one can stop us from putting forward issues, which are vital for us.