Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan’s briefing with journalists on the result of the meeting with Masis Mayilyan, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Artsakh02 September, 2019
Question: Public Television of Artsakh: Firstly about the agenda of the above mentioned Artsakh meeting, which lasted very long. What kind of questions have been discussed and overall what was the aim of the meeting? Secondly, nowadays the necessity of the military-political agreement between Artsakh and Armenia is widely discussed. Do you find it necessary? I would like to ask both ministers to answer.
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: Thank you. Your first question refers to our agenda in Artsakh. Our visit to Artsakh was the final phase of the Annual Conference of the MFA Apparatus and Heads of Diplomatic Service Abroad and we complete our ambassadorial meeting here in Artsakh, which was useful for more than one purpose. First of all, today, being in Artsakh to celebrate together the 28th anniversary of the independence of Artsakh is a symbolic moment. The other important question is that we had an aim to use this occasion to enhance and deepen the dialogue between our Diplomatic Apparatus, Diplomatic Service Abroad and the Apparatus of the Artsakh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
We have a well-established agenda to work together in order to keep our approaches, perceptions, assessments completed in the context of the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict and other issues on our agenda. In that sense, this was a wonderful occasion. Before this press conference, we were exchanging ideas, which has significant importance to us. Finally, the meeting with the President of Artsakh was essential as an opportunity to receive first-hand information on all the priorities of security and development agenda, approaches and policies of Artsakh Authorities and the President, and exchange ideas with the ambassadors. I consider this a positive approach. This is also the conclusion of our amazing work we had been carrying out for a week.
I would like to emphasize again, as I have already said multiple times, this was an extended and important conference for us. We had a two-day profound discussions on various questions in three main directions: security, development and so-called themes referring to image-making agendas. We had separate meetings with communities, businessmen, winemakers, we had a meeting with the Catholicos since in that direction we have questions regarding the foreign policy and diaspora. We have quite a common working area. The meeting in the Parliament of Armenia and the same inclusive and profound deliberations were essential for us. I give significant importance to that and it was essential to carry out that function. Finally, I would like to emphasize our meetings in Gyumri in terms of directly engaging in the development agenda of the regions of Armenia and immediately feeling, perceiving what kind of priorities and importance it has to our government.
In Gyumri, the meeting of the governors and representatives of regions with ambassadors was of significant importance․ In conclusion, we still have more targeted work to do to outline, to assess all necessary steps towards the effective implementation of our government’s foreign policy program, in which our Diplomatic Service Abroad plays an immediate role. Regarding your second question, I think that currently, I would refrain from giving any explanation. Since I believe that we still do need to talk, make assessments for ourselves. As a direct participant of the negotiation process and working in that direction, I want to emphasize a very essential and important nuance-the issue of the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the Artsakh Issue is, first of all, the issue of the physical existence of people. It is a priority for all of us, it is a nationwide problem.
And also the issue of status arises therefrom. These two together form our priorities. We implement the policy in the framework of a peaceful settlement. I would like to repeat again that peace has no alternative and we insist on that being confident that Artsakh and Armenia have enough capacity to propel the peace agenda, to work on peace and have enough capacity for self-defence.
These are priorities and every step should be taken to that end. Every move should be elaborated, well-assessed and considered. I would like to refrain from further commentaries.
Question: ‘‘Azat Artsakh’’: I address my question to both of the Foreign Ministers of the two Armenian republics and would like you to pay attention to the announcement of the Emmanuel Macron, President of France, co-chair country of the OSCE Minsk Group, on August 27. He made a sensational announcement saying that it is already the end of western hegemony in the world. The addressee of the latter is the USA, the other co-chair country of the OSCE Minsk Group. I would like you as Foreign Ministers to comment on whether you see any threat in this announcement and to explain what kind of possible consequences it may bring. He also expressed the ideas on ongoing geopolitical changes: China is moving forward, Russia is having success in his strategy and the security of Europe is not possible without Russia. What kind of threat this does announcement entail?
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: Thank you for the question. I do believe that the answer to it requires a separate conference in order to comprehensively analyze deep geopolitical developments. This is a question of permanent discussions of the international community, international expert community and political community. For this reason, the answer can be ...
Question: ‘‘Azat Artsakh’’: Please, say it in brief, Mr. Mnatsakanyan...
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: I can answer you this way: we opened our diplomatic conference on August 27 where two speeches were made. One was made by the Prime Minister of Armenia and the other one by the Foreign Minister i.e. myself. And in my speech I broadly referred to that based on our policy, the Government program, and more widely referred to our priorities- both geographical and thematic. I can repeat them but it is expressed in the speech. I am sure that you have already read it.
I would like to emphasize that our priorities in both geographical and thematic terms are based on a combination of values and interests and on fundamental principles of implementation of our policy, expressed in that speech i.e. assessing and recognizing what kind of country and what kind of people we represent in the international area, what kind of values we are guided by, how we combine our values and interests, how we implement the values and assess our interests in a changing world. This is the title of our conference. We have broadly discussed those principles, based on which we implement our foreign policy.
That is sovereignty, pan-Arminianism and partnership. In that speech, it is widely expressed what we wanted to say and it is also precisely emphasized that foreign policy is to serve one important aim: a perfect implementation of our internal and national goals using all possible platforms of international cooperation and international engagement.
With regards to this, we have established our priorities and accordingly we assess our actions based on different opportunities and challenges that emerge and continue to emerge in this changing world. We adapt our policies which also have principles: civilizational principles, modern principles, that we are not going to abandon, simultaneously, in the real world we combine our interests and principles to fulfill our goals.
You also referred to the role of France as a co-chair country of the OSCE Minsk Group. I am to repeat again that currently, the format of co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group is the only working and productive format where we implement and pursue the process of the peaceful settlement. I would finish hereby.
Question: Artsakhpress news agency: Mr. Mnatsakanyan, what kind of steps are being taken to bring the Armenian soldiers back from Azerbaijan.
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: Taking into consideration the sensitivity of the question we make commentaries with caution. On this matter I cooperate with all our partners that have immediate relation to this question, with my partners of Yerevan: Minister of Defence, Director of National Security Service and the Red Cross plays an essential role as well. This is a very pressing issue.
You are aware that we demonstrated our approach on the previous occasion when the citizen of Azerbaijan appeared in Armenia. We made that step and returned him.
For us, by the way, I would like to repeat one more time, the future of Karen Ghazaryan is going to be a matter of concern.
The new situation, indeed, also demands caution, since we deal with the lives and fate of the people. This is very worrying, very disturbing, and we should continue to make an immense effort in order to find solutions.
Question: 1st Armenian news and analyses. I address the question to both of the Ministers. Recently, Nikol Pashinyan, during the meeting with the ambassadors noted that he is embarrassed due to the plight of Artsakh negotiations that he had inherited. Particularly I would like to know whether you are aware of the essence of that heritage. Do authorities of Artsakh, that followed the negotiation process, know it, or whether the former authorities of Armenia have hidden something. What kind of heritage did Nikol Pashinyan inherit and why is he disappointed? Could that mean the return of the territories, I do not know what is that option.
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: It seems that we are referring to the same question for the second time. I would answer again. I already had the opportunity to refer to our fundamental and prior questions, important questions concerning the security and the status. There are other criteria. The most important question for us is the combination of the parameters in the way which gives an opportunity to see that our two priorities are clearly expressed according to our main concerns i.e. security and status. Here, in the negotiation package, there is such a combination of parameters where we have the expression of our concerns, our important questions. Our endeavor in the negotiation process is aimed at that. I will finish hereby.
Question: ‘‘Aparaj’’ newspaper. The visits of the Members of the foreign parliaments, members of the European Parliament to Artsakh are primarily undertaken by the efforts of the ARF Armenian National Committee. I wonder what are the relations between the Diplomatic Service of Armenia and with the Armenian National Committees
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: It seemed to me that all these actions taken together are taken as a common and nationwide agenda. And if you want to ask a question in the way that ARF works and what do the others do, then, with respect to our Diplomatic Service and our diplomatic mission, we intensively cooperate with all our partners: ARF, all other organizations operating in the diaspora. And you cannot draw a line between the ARF and the others. Do not try to.
Question: ‘‘Stepanakert’’ newspaper. In your speech, you mentioned that you have a working field with the diaspora. I would like to ask you to tell us briefly what are the benefits and what kind of achievements do we have as a result of that work.
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: Your question is so extensive. You know that our relations with the diaspora, I do not even want to formulate it in this way, are also expressed in our principle of pan-Arminianism that was mentioned by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia here in Stepanakert on August 5. We have discussed that during our Ambassadorial Conference. On this matter of diaspora, we have a broad, formulating and developing agenda with Zareh Sinanyan, the newly appointed High Commissioner for Diaspora Affairs. If I get your question correctly it was about the gained achievements.
Frankly speaking, there are so many things in our common agenda that we need to organize a separate conference on that matter. But the problem is the following: depending on the field, means, countries, the amount of the work is different. Diplomatic Service of Armenia plays a direct role in these issues due to the fact that our Diplomatic Representatives are the vanguard of our daily relations with diaspora. This agenda is of significant importance to us. It is natural that we have priorities established by the Armenian Government in the context of pan-Arminianism, pan-Armenian and nationwide agenda where the state, as an essential institute, carries significance with its sovereignty. Our statehood has functions and potential for self-defense, self-protection, and development of our identity. The factor of Artsakh also has significant importance in the issues of protection and development of our identity, including the threats to Artsakh, the successes of Artsakh, development of Artsakh. The agenda with the diaspora is formed around all these questions.
Pan-Arminianism is expressed in the capacity of using our national potential at our best. Here the unity, first of all, refers to our capacity and to all these different national institutions. To direct the potential of the institutions to our nationwide agenda, first of all, refers to different issues, including those related to our civilizational, historical, identity agenda both in Armenia and elsewhere i.e. in the diaspora, where we have a great civilizational, cultural heritage. Our diaspora is significant first of all with its institutional development. The example of ARF was brought, but it is only one among the other organizations that have huge institutional potential. In diaspora, there are other organizations as well. The role of the church, the role of different churches. There are cultural, educational, professional organizations. There are pan-Armenian organizations such as the AGBU etc. There are individuals, whose activities also foster the advancement of that pan-Armenian and nationwide agenda.
Our task is to protect them. And again we have many good examples of how the nationwide resource works for the development agenda of the country. We have the issue of repatriation: to what extent Armenia is a home for all Armenians. This is expressed in the framework of the current agenda: how many threats and challenges there are referring to our communities and their protection. Our presence, for instance, the humanitarian mission to Syria is one of the examples of that. Our 22.000 compatriots in Armenia, this is another example. But this is not the whole list.
If we transform your question into some statistics we might lose the context: what is good and what is bad. But in the framework of your question, I would like to refer to the comprehensive meaning of pan-Arminianism. In respect to this, it does not mean to transform us into some situation, where we are unique, etc.. Under no circumstances. This is simply our perception as a civilization, as a people, as a state. Our uniqueness, after all, is also the existence of a big diaspora. We are a nation that has a long history of coexistence alongside with other peoples.
I would like to refer again to the speech I made on August 27. Yes, we have an immense experience, national experience to live, to work alongside various civilizations, religions, peoples, and states. We definitely have an understanding of solidarity between Christianity and Islam. We certainly know it based on our national experience. We do know what does it mean to live in different states and to take part in the development and defense of those states without losing our identity. How many Armenians protected their ‘‘adopted’’ countries, made their contribution in their development at the same time remaining Armenians. In this regard, it is a great asset. Though if we make a step forward we will notice the reason why our diaspora is so big since we have a unique status when as a nation, we continue to be people living in the condition of denied justice.
105 years later we are not able to obtain the necessary level of justice, which continues to be a heavy burden on our people’s shoulders. On this matter, pan-Arminianism is expressed in the perception of who we are. Under no circumstances it should not be considered as something exclusive, instead, with a deep understanding of who we are, what kind of challenges we have, what kind of nationwide agenda we have and how it is necessary to unite our nationwide forces. The context of pan-Arminianism is the following: unite our power for our nationwide goals where the State also has its own importance, currently perhaps as the most effective, important and powerful institution: sovereignty is a national institute that promotes the advancement of our pan-Armenian agenda.
It may take a lot of time talking on this matter because it is of great importance. I would like to repeat: it is not a question of simple unity, but a question of consolidating our potential. It is about the proper use, the reinforcement of our national capabilities, which, I think, is not just one. This is our national consensus to be able to do that. We have succeeded in contributing in various issues and we have prestige, respect, recognizability. Taking into consideration the above mentioned, we do not escape from our problems, we know our weaknesses, we know our problems. However, in any circumstances, it is obvious that our collective potential is strong and powerful to promote the advancement of our nationwide agenda. Thank you.
Question: Recently Nikol Pashinyan, the Prime Minister of Armenia has announced that the incumbent powers do not belong to any political direction. We can not differentiate whether they are centric, right or left. Regarding the above mentioned how do you see the cooperation with European institutions such as the European Parliament, where a particular political power has to cooperate with its respective political group.
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: It has already been 9 months that we have a new parliament and my answer will be the following. During the 9 months, there were many developments that I would mention with gratitude since our Diplomatic service also notices immediately and cooperates with our parliamentary partners. Parliamentary diplomacy is a very essential direction in the implementation of our foreign policy. During this short period of time, we were able to form our appropriate teams, that have been engaged in both establishment of bilateral friendship groups and the format of parliamentary assemblies. The teams have been established and gained their experience. Your question primarily referred to the European direction but that is not restricted only to that.
We i.e. Armenia, work also on other parliamentary platforms. The CIS, CSTO have their parliamentary formats. Regarding the European direction we have the OSCE PA, we have the PACE, we have an appropriate format of cooperation with the European Parliament, a working format in the framework of the NATO PA. For these months we gained good experience working in these formats and I am grateful and highly appreciate the activity of our parliamentarians engaged in this process. You are also aware that in Europe the elections of the European Parliament have taken place and all configurations are to be assessed in a proper way in order to work effectively in that direction, in those parliamentary assemblies, taking into consideration all the circumstances.