Briefing of the Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Anna Naghdalyan

29 October, 2020

I will try to present the latest developments in the diplomatic field, even though I know that you are all following the developments on the ground with great intensity and interest.

I would like to note that a few days ago, during the working visit of the Foreign Minister to the United States, an agreement on cessation of hostilities was reached on October 25. And also let me note that the first relevant agreement was reached on October 10, then on October 17 there was a corresponding announcement, which confirmed the agreement reached on October 10. However, as in the previous two times, Azerbaijan again was not able or could not fulfill its obligations on the cessation of hostilities and continued its aggression.

For more than a month, Azerbaijan continues its large-scale aggression against the people of Artsakh, during which the population of Artsakh, its civilian infrastructure, and, particularly, its vital infrastructure, are being deliberately targeted. Today, the Foreign Ministry issued a statement in this regard, condemning the targeting of medical facilities especially during the pandemic, which we have witnessed yesterday.

The Azerbaijani aggression against Artsakh is resulting in huge damages to the population of Artsakh. The Human Rights Defender of Artsakh published a number of more than 40 victims among civilians, and more than 120 wounded, most of whom were seriously injured. There was data on the destruction of more than ten thousand civilian infrastructure: we are talking about 12 thousand private properties and 2100 infrastructures, most of which are vital infrastructures.

In our statement, we have also stressed that these actions of Azerbaijan, which contain crimes against humanity, will be resolutely repelled by Artsakh within its full capacity.

On October 30, Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan will pay a working visit to Geneva, where he will meet with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs. At this moment in parallel to our briefing, the meeting of Minister Mnatsakanyan with the Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi is taking place. Thus, I can provide additional details about the meeting only after the end of the meeting.

Armenpress: Today we are observing that on the one hand we establish a ceasefire with Azerbaijan, and on the other the intensity of the hostilities does not reduce. In these conditions, is the meeting scheduled for October 30 possible? The meeting was scheduled for October 29; why did the date change? And what is the agenda of the meeting?

Anna Naghdalyan: In my opening remarks, I have already stated that on October 30, the Foreign Minister will pay a working visit to Geneva where he will meet with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs. This is the only format of the meeting I have information about at this moment. What about the question on the change in the date of the meeting, I must say that it was changed due to logistic issues.

Regarding the agenda, we have repeatedly stated that the priority for Armenia is the cessation of hostilities in accordance with the agreements reached on October 10. The establishment of the ceasefire regime and its strengthening through the introduction of verification mechanisms is a priority for us. This is on our agenda of the Geneva meeting.

Armenpress. On October 1, Armenia decided to recall its ambassador from Israel for consultations. What is the current position of Armenia on the sale of weapons by Israel to Azerbaijan? What actions have been undertaken or are planned after recalling the ambassador?

Anna Naghdalyan: Let me note that at this moment the Ambassador is in Yerevan; he did not leave for Israel. As for Armenia's position on arms sales to Azerbaijan, it has been clearly stated not only in regard to one or several countries; it is our principal position of not selling weapons to a country which does not hesitate in using those weapons against the civilian population and infrastructure, which we have been observing during this month.

ArmInfo: Aliyev wrote in his Twitter microblog: “We see the future of the Karabakh region as a peaceful area. We can turn the region into one of the most prosperous regions in the world through our investments and with our experience of rebuilding the country, but for that we should eliminate the consequences of war." How would you comment on this statement?

Anna Naghdalyan: Both the previous statements of the President of Azerbaijan and the concrete actions of the Azerbaijani armed forces, which we have been observing, demonstrate that Azerbaijan's goal is to exterminate the Armenians from Artsakh, to annihilate the indigenous population of Artsakh; Azerbaijan wants Artsakh without its people. The existence of the Armenian population of Artsakh is not possible under the jurisdiction of Azerbaijan.

From the very first day of large-scale aggression unleashed against Artsakh, Azerbaijan's actions have been accompanied by gross violations of the rules of war and international humanitarian law, which are more than telling in the contrary to this statement by the President of Azerbaijan.

Thus, throughout the hostilities, the Azerbaijani side targeted the civilian population and infrastructure, and during this shelling, amid the pandemic, vital medical facilities and medical institutions were targeted. The shelling was mainly carried out with the use of internationally prohibited weapons, first of all with cluster munitions, the main purpose of which is to inflict ultimate damage on the civilian population, especially children and women far from the frontline.

There have been cases of blatant violations of the Geneva Convention in the Hadrut region, when we have observed punitive actions against the captives. By the way, one of them was an elderly citizen of Artsakh. And these war crimes, no matter how ridiculous, were videotaped and published on the social network by the criminals themselves, who were widely praised by the Azerbaijani society and glorified.

I would like to add that the Azerbaijani armed forces are completely destroying the settlements temporarily appearing under their control, the main purpose of which is to prevent the return of the indigenous people to their places of residence.

Summing up, I should mention that complying with the rules of war and respect towards the civilian population differs a regular army from a terrorist group and a state from a terrorist organization.

With blatant and deliberate violations of the rules of war and international humanitarian law, encouraging these war crimes in the Azerbaijani society and glorifying those crimes, the Azerbaijani authorities bear responsibility for all the short-term and long-term consequences of these actions.

Sputnik Armenia: There were reports that Israel offered humanitarian aid to Armenia. What is your position on this issue?

Anna Naghdalyan: We believe that Israel should stop selling weapons to Azerbaijan; we think that first of all, arming of Azerbaijan, strengthening its military capabilities should be stopped, cause those capacities are used against the civilian population. And the incidents that took place yesterday, when they were again used against the capital and other cities of Artsakh, are a case in point.

In this situation, we are encountering a reality where a state that has survived a genocide, a nation that has survived a genocide, supports other states that persue genocidal intends and are financing terrorism.

Public TV: Does Armenia have any expectations from Iran, which deploys new military units by Iran along the Araks River, carries out large-scale military drills in the north of the country? What proposals did the Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister come to Armenia with? How does the Armenian side react to the proposals of the official voiced in Baku?

Anna Naghdalyan: Let me start with the second part. As I have mentioned, the meeting of the Minister of Foreign Affairs with the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iran is ongoing at the moment, I would not like to comment on any proposal from the Iranian side based on information received only from the media. Therefore, I cannot provide any information about this meeting until it is over.

What refers to the first part, let me note that Iran is Armenia's neighbor; the aggression against Artsakh by Azerbaijan, with the support of Turkey, and the transfer of terrorist fighters into the region, as well as the decision of the Azerbaijani authorities to turn their country into a Turkish sphere of influence and a center of terrorism is a threat for the entire region and for the countries of the region, and Iran is no exception.

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