Remarks and answers to the questions of journalists by Foreign Minister of Armenia Zohrab Mnatsakanyan at the joint press conference with the Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias

16 October, 2020

Good afternoon, 

Dear media representatives, dear friends,

Dear Nikos, my friend,

I would like to welcome my good partner, my friend, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Hellenic Republic Nikos Dendias, who is on a working visit in Armenia.

We had an effective and constructive discussion on our comprehensive agenda, both in an extended անդ tete-a-tete formats, underlining our mutual commitment to maintain the dynamics of political dialogue and to further expand and strengthen the cooperation.

Our relations have traditionally been marked by warmth and friendship, anchored with centuries-old brotherly ties of the Armenian-Greek peoples. The cooperation between our friendly states develops dynamically, including defense, trade, education, science, culture, tourism, and a number of other important spheres.

The cooperation and mutual support in the international platforms and within the multilateral formats plays an important role in Armenia-Greece relations. It is very important that our countries have the same approaches on many issues of the international agenda.

Armenia, who is at the forefront of the agenda on the prevention of genocides and crimes against humanity, emphasizes the consistent efforts of Greece in this regard.

Our bilateral relations are also emphasized in the context of the Armenia-EU partnership. We have close cooperation in the field peacekeeping as well.

Our countries enjoy close cooperation also within the Armenia-Greece-Cyprus trilateral format, which aims at promoting peace, stability, prosperity through political dialogue and cooperation between our countries.

Dear colleagues, our meeting is taking place in a situation, when our compatriots in Artsakh are encountering an existential threat. And in this regard, I would like to express my special gratitude to my colleague for visiting Armenia at this important time and expressing his solidarity with the Armenian people.

Our regions- the Eastern Mediterranean and Southern Caucasus are currently encountering the same threat, deriving from the expansionist policy of Turkey. 

The instigator of the large-scale aggression unleashed by the military-political leadership of Azerbaijan against the civilian population of Artsakh since September 27  is Turkey, which is directly involved in the implementation of that aggression not only with its military participation, but also with the involvement of foreign terrorist fighters under its service.

Despite the ministerial statement issued on October 10 on the cessation of hostilities and the strengthening of that regime, Azerbaijan continued its hostilities, by attacking a military equipment within the territory of the Republic of Armenia as well. Yesterday the capital of the Republic of Artsakh - Stepanakert was again shelled.

With all this, Azerbaijan clearly demonstrates that it not only refuses to cease hostilities under the joint statement of the Foreign Ministers, but also with obvious provocation of Turkey, seeks to expand the geography of the conflict, attacking and instigating a blatant aggression against the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia. Although it is clear that Turkey stands behind the decisions of the actions of the Azerbaijani side, it is the leadership of Azerbaijan which will bear full responsibility for the irreversible military-political consequences of these actions.

The peaceful population of Artsakh is being deliberately targeted in the large-scale hostilities of Azerbaijan, without distinguishing between the civilian population and military facilities in their genocidal policy.

More than 32 civilians were killed and more than 106 were injured, 86 of them seriously in the operations carried out by the Azerbaijani armed forces and their supporting forces.

Only after the October 10 statement, as a result of the Azerbaijani actions, six civilian casualties were registered, four of which were shot dead by the Azerbaijani subversive group, while the remaining two were killed as a result of the artillery shelling. The war crimes of Azerbaijan are documented by the same criminals who are publishing those videos on the Internet and glorifying their actions, including the humiliating behavior against the prisoners of war and the letters’ assassination.

Due to this aggression, the number of forcibly displaced people has dramatically increased.

It is difficult to present how much damage was caused to the vital civilian infrastructure of Artsakh. 

The irreversible decision of the Azerbaijani leadership to turn their country into Turkey's zone of influence and a center of international terrorist groups for maintaining their grip on power poses a greater threat in terms of regional security and stability in the future.

Exporting foreign terrorist fighters and extremists to other regions is one of the tools of expansionist policy of Turkey’s current government. We have observed the destructive consequences of this policy in other regions, such as Syria, Libya, Iraq, the Eastern Mediterranean, and currently in the South Caucasus.

In this regard, I would like to reiterate our position on developments in the Mediterranean and express Armenia's unconditional support and solidarity with Greece, Cyprus, and once again call on Turkey to respect international law, and to suspend all activities in the exclusive economic zones of Greece and Cyprus.

I will finish here and now will pass the floor to my colleague, Nikos Dendias, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Greece.

Question: Mr. Minister, we have recently observed the increasing support to Armenia by Iran, Russia, France, yesterday even by the US  Secretary of State Pompeo, Greece is here today. How will this support turn into an enduring solution in the Artsakh region? What are your expectations, since a European summit is taking place today and this issue will be discussed? What are your expectations from this summit? 

Zohrab Mnatsakanyan: You are asking a very important question. Yes, we highly appreciate the general perception and the assessment which was formed among our partners and the international community: that it is impossible to hide what is the reality, that this is an aggression against our compatriots - the people of Artsakh, the target of which are the people, the civilian population; that this act is aimed at solving the conflict by force, by aggression, by war.

Of course the people of Artsakh defend its right to existence, and they defend themselves. Armenia, as the only guarantor of the security of our compatriots, has been and remains the only guarantor, defender and supporter of their security, and all its resources are concentrated to that. 

One of the main issues is the following: the two new circumstances I have mentioned - the Turkish factor and the factor of international terrorists - have created the most dangerous calculation in Baku as well that they may ignore the international community's approach to this issue. It is, of course, dangerous and, at the same time, certainly has its consequences

For us, for Armenia, the issue has been and remains more than clear; it is about the existential security of our compatriots, which we are observing on the ground. Recognition of the realization of our compatriots’ right to self-determination is the primary priority issue today, which is also demonstrated in the fact that this is, above all, a tool of protection. And in this regard, we will continue to work with all our partners and with the international community. We are committed to the agreement reached on October 10. Yes, we continue to insist that this issue has no military solution. This is demonstrated by our compatriots in Artsakh, our brave people in Artsakh, who show their determination to defend their land, their homeland, life, family, and who will exclude the enemy's assumption that they will ever have a military solution to this issue. They will have a deeper crisis because of their actions, but nothing will ever be forced towards the aspiration of Artsakh to live in freedom and dignity, and with dignity in freedom.

We will continue to work with all our partners, including, first and foremost, with the Minsk Group Co-Chairs, with the participation of France, the United States and Russia, with all our friends. Today we have already demonstrated how we work with our partners, particularly with Greece today, with the European Union, in the Middle East, in all directions, to further strengthen the use of the necessary political and diplomatic means to achieve a just and peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the basis of which have been and remains one thing;  the people of Artsakh have fought and received it - the right to live free, with dignity and security, which will never change, that capacity will not be violated in any way. The priority of the recognition of their right to self-determination, above all, expresses our main concern for the physical security risks of the people of Artsakh, expresses what concerns our priorities in the negotiation process. Thank you.

Question: Mr. Mnatsakanyan, yesterday, a video was published, where the Azerbaijani Armed Forces were taking cruel revenge on the civilians who were under their control. What is your comment on that?

Zohrab Mnatsakayn: Yes, it again, demonstrates the depth of barbarism that we are currently dealing with. And this is not the first time, this is not new. It again demonstrated that we are just fighting for the existence of our compatriots.

Nothing will make us surrender in this regard. Once again, I want to bow deeply to all the brave people who are now fighting for that. Our task will be to demonstrate the international community, in the strongest possible terms, the depth of this barbarism that we are dealing with. Its legal and political assessment, of course, can be expressed in different ways. And, of course, it will be studied, it will be documented, the relevant procedural issues will be addressed. But that is not the point. The question is in the essence; what kind of phenomenon we are dealing with, because any civilized norm is simply crushed. This is the essence of this conflict. Thank you.

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