MFA Spokesperson Anna Naghdalyan’s briefing in the Armenian Unified Infocenter

01 October, 2020

Good evening

Dear colleagues,

Our briefing is taking place on the 5th day of the Azerbaijani aggression against Artsakh. The distinctive feature of this aggression is that Azerbaijan is deliberately targeting the civilian population and infrastructures, causing human and material losses. Today Turkish-Azerbaijani forces have also targeted a group of Armenian and foreign reporters/media representatives.

And these have happened only hours following the announcement by the MFA of Armenia regarding the enthusiasm and interest of international media to cover this conflict. The Ministry has accredited more than 200 representatives from over 50 international media outlets, and most of them - over a hundred journalists, are already working from Artsakh. During a visit to the Martuni region of Artsakh they have been caught in the shelling, when Azerbaijan has been targeting the civilian infrastructures. One of the reporters from the French “Le Monde” has been severely wounded and has undergone a surgery in one of the hospitals of Artsakh. Artsakh has already publicly announced its intention to organize the transportation of the reporter to Armenia. I have to mention that vehicles transporting the journalists had also been targeted, despite wearing dedicated press stickers and special clothing. There are Armenian journalists among the targeted as well. We wish a speedy recovery to all the journalists. 

Recurring deliberate targeting of the civilian population and infrastructures by Azerbaijan with the use of artillery and other heavy weaponry, including the targeting of journalists and their professional activities, constitute a blatant violation of international humanitarian law and should be strongly condemned. 

The next question I would like to refer to concerns Turkey's involvement in the Azerbaijani aggression. The Foreign Ministry has made multiple statements in this regard, drawing the attention of our international partners on Turkey’s destabilizing policy. As you might know, yesterday the Ministry of Defence provided evidence on the direct participation of Turkish military experts. In particular, we have information that Turkish “Bayraktar” UAVs used during this hostilities are operated by the Turkish experts. This is not surprising, since if you remember during the war of 2016, UAVs launched by Azerbaijan were being operated by foreign experts as well. furthermore, we have been provided with information that Azerbaijan’s entire airspace is under Turkish command, possibly, from the remote command and control of the Turkish airborne station in Erzrum-Kars area. These provocative actions of Turkish armed forces are seriously undermining the regional security and peace, as well as hindering the efforts of the international community towards the cessation of hostilities.

The international community has strictly called on foreign actors to refrain from any actions that will further escalate the conflict. Turkey should heed to these calls. The transfer of foreign armed terrorists from Syria and Libya to Azerbaijan by Turkey has a far-reaching goal and it will have catastrophic effects on the stability and security of the South Caucasus and beyond it. These actions fit in the logic of the Turkish foreign policy in recent years.

Armed militants, radical Islamists, Jihadist movements have all become Turkish mercenaries and are widely used to project the interests of the current Turkish leadership, and to export their influence to neighbouring regions. I have to note that in the instant case, Azerbaijan is merely an instrument serving these interests of Turkey. And we have no doubt that with the time the territory of Azerbaijan will be used as a base for stationing those groupings. Moreover, the presence of those terrorists will transform the region and Azerbaijan itself into a theatre of further bloodshed.

Such a perspective of the future is disturbing not only Armenia and Artsakh, but is also undermining the regional security and stability and posing a danger for neighbouring regions. The Foreign Ministry of Armenia is undertaking all possible measures, to convey these concerns to all our partners, so that this destabilizing policy of Turkey receives its adequate assessment and is eventually restrained. In this regard, Foreign Minister has been constantly in contact with all its partners. An hour ago, the Minister of Foreign Affairs had a phone conversation with his French counterpart, while at this very moment he is helding a web meeting with his Greek counterpart. 

Public TV 2:  Mrs. Naghdalyan, today in Brussels President of France Emmanuel Macron, spoke clearly about the involvement of Turkey, and the deployment of terrorists. But in the statement of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs we saw a call for cessation of hostilities directed to both Azerbaijan and Armenia, and Turkey was not mentioned. Do you see a sign of equality here as well? And I would like to ask you to explain what it means in diplomatic terms to condemn the military escalation in the most decisive manner.

Anna Naghdalyan: I think you are missing something in your question. There was no statement from the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs today. A statement was made today at the level of the leaders of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries. I must mention here that we have read the statement, but the assessment of the statement will be given later and not at my level. Therefore, with your permission I will not address this question. The second question was about the diplomatic terms. It is the call of the international community to take all necessary steps to immediately cease hostilities on the ground.

Public TV 2: Following this statement, the Turkish President was against some of the provisions in it, stating that he did not accept them, but the Foreign Ministers of the Russian Federation and Turkey seem to agree on immediate ceasefire. What does this mean? Does this mean that this can affect ceasing the hostilities. 

Anna Naghdalyan: I cannot say what the wording of the media statements of the third country means, however I can say that at the moment we have the decisive position of the international community, united, clear position that steps must be undertaken to cease the hostilities. 

As for the role of Turkey and its statements, I think that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has repeatedly expressed its assessments on Turkey's involvement, direct involvement in the aggression unleashed by Azerbaijan against Artsakh and Armenia, thus I am citing the statement of the Foreign Ministry at the ministerial level.

I have to add one thing, as in 2016 aggression, as well as now, Azerbaijan is taking a series of clear steps to prepare the appropriate background for hostilities; One of them is that at first Azerbaijan expresses its criticism over the actions of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, then questions the effectiveness of the latter’s actions. And all these pursue one goal. And that goal is geopolitical and aims at strengthening Turkey’s role in the South Caucasus. I must state with sorrow that Azerbaijan is turning into Turkey’s proxy state and with the other Turkish proxies takes steps towards undermining peace and security of the region. 

As a responsible member of the international community, Armenia and Artsakh will work together to do their best to undermine any action against the comprehensiveness of the regional security and stability.

Public TV 2: With your permission I want to give the last question. The Iranian side suffered some consequences of the hostilities today. There are wounded and some  collapsed houses. Is there a reaction from the Iranian side? What kind of consequences can this have for Azerbaijan?

Anna Naghdalyan: We are in constant contact with our Iranian partners. And, indeed, the contacts are on various levels and are permanent. And here I must say that it is unfortunate that Azerbaijan uses the territories of other countries to endanger the regional peace and security in order to carry out hostilities and aggression against Artsakh. And in this regard, the dialogue between our Iranian partners is comprehensive and includes a wide range of issues.

Radio Free: I must refer to the joint statement of the presidents again. Look, there was no reference to the participation of Syrian militants, although there were similar statements by those countries and the letters have emphasized that issue. What was the reason that the joint statement did not mention anything about it, and how do you feel about that gap?

Anna Naghdalyan: I must say that, as I have mentioned in the beginning of the response to your colleague's question, we got acquainted with the statement made at the level of the leaders of the Co-Chair countries, but the position of the Armenian side will be presented later and no at my level, as it is is not ethically right for me to address this in professional terms.

New Armenia TV: Is Putin-Trump-Macron statement acceptable for Armenia? Azerbaijan is no longer reliable! What can be agreed with that country? The enemy accuses the Armenian side of deliberately bringing journalists closer to the front-line and claims that the journalists must first have the permission from Azerbaijan to be in Artsakh. What is your comment on that? 

Anna Naghdalyan: I have already referred to the first question, and as to the second question, Mr. Tatoyan presented in detail how the activities of the journalists were carried out, that it did not violate any legal provision, and everything had been organized within the framework of the law. As for the claim that journalists have moved to the front-line, just to inform our partners, I will say that journalists carry out their professional activities in civilian  areas, which indicates that Azerbaijan has deliberately targeted civilian settlements and civilian infrastructures.

Public TV. There was a proposal from Georgia to provide a platform for dialogue. Are there any offers from other countries?

Anna Naghdalyan. During this period, our international partners have issued various statements. In this regard, I would like to emphasize that we are in constant contact with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs and senior leaders of Co-Chairing states. The OSCE Minsk Group format is the only acceptable format for us within the resolution of the conflict. And at this point, the priority is to take steps towards a ceasefire, and finally, reach the ceasefire.

Armenpress. According to the press, today two airplanes landed in Baku, supplying weapons. How reliable is this information? What does our diplomacy do to neutralize such assistance to the Azerbaijani side?

Anna Naghdalyan. The Foreign Ministry of Armenia has made a clear statement regarding the sale of armaments to Azerbaijan by Israel, most recently in July at the level of the Foreign Minister, and this issue has always been on our bilateral agenda. For sure, the provision of modern weapons by Israel to Azerbaijan is unacceptable for us. We have repeatedly informed our Israeli counterparts about this through diplomatic channels, it should be noted that it is especially painful at a time when Azerbaijan, with the support of Turkey, is carrying out a large-scale aggression against Artsakh and Armenia. Instead, these days, when the whole international community calls on the Azerbaijani side to stop hostilities, the Israeli side continues to supply weapons to Azerbaijan.This kind of actions by the Israeli side are unacceptable for us, especially in this period. Based on the current situation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has decided to recall the Ambassador of Armenia to Israel for consultations.

Arminfo: Statements are made by the political circles of Armenia on the recognition of Artsakh’s independence and signing of a mutual cooperation agreement with Artsakh. Is it possible that amid the developments, Armenia will decide to recognize the independence of Artsakh? Is it in the agenda of the Foreign Ministry? 

Anna Naghdalyan: The issue of the status of Artsakh has always been relevant, it is one of the fundamental issues of the peace process. We have said that one of our priorities in the peace process is the issue of security and status of Artsakh. Now we have a situation when Azerbaijan has actually withdrawn from the negotiating process and carries out a large-scale aggression against Artsakh and Armenia. Of course, the issue of Artsakh's independence has become more frequent and more relevant among different parts of Armenian society. Let me say that there are enough tools in the political-legal arsenal of Armenia, which can be used in accordance with the developments and assessments. 

“Bac TV”: The international community recognized the fact of the use of terrorists by Azerbaijan and Turkey in the conflict zone. Is Armenia going to launch an anti-terrorist campaign against the Turkish-Azerbaijani alliance, and will Armenia initiate the formation of an anti-terrorist coalition? What steps are to be taken in this direction?

Anna Naghdalyan: We have repeatedly stated that we have information that Turkey  is recruiting foreign militants from parts of Syria where they are located, and from Libya, and is transferring them to Azerbaijan. We repeatedly expressed our concern over this to our international partners, and definitely, this is not limited with statements. Foreign Ministry of Armenia undertakes all the steps to protect our region from the influence of all extra-regional forces that undermine regional stability and peace. In this regard, we use all the mechanisms in our arsenal.

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