Briefing of Foreign Minister Ara Aivazian with the journalists on the results of the meeting with the Standing Committee on Foreign Relations of the National Assembly of Armenia14 January, 2021
Question: Regarding the statement of the Russian Co-Chair: he noted that Russia has never considered the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict as an issue of returning the 7 regions to Azerbaijan, ignoring the issue of the status. Meanwhile, we remember that earlier Vladimir Putin made different statement. Yerevan voices other statements. Can you, please, comment on the Co-Chair's statement, and if there are contradictory statements at a higher level, how is Igor Popov's statement being perceived in this case? Was there really such a document? How true is what he said?
Ara Aivazian: I got acquainted with Mr. Popov's interview. As you all know, Armenia once gave its consent to the Kazan document, as it contained the full set of basic principles for the settlement of the conflict. Even after the rejection of the Kazan document by Azerbaijan, the work and negotiations continued based on the fundamental principles. Moreover, even during the war, Azerbaijan agreed to continue the negotiations based on those principles.
Question: Was the issue of status included in it or not?
Ara Aivazian: I definitely agree with Mr. Popov on the fact that the status of Artsakh was the most important principle for the settlement of the conflict, and I will add that it has been and remains as such. I would like to say that the statement of November 9 is not a document on settlement: it is a document on a ceasefire, a truce, an end to war, which includes some of the fundamental principles. However, the conflict cannot be considered resolved, as not all the basic principles, particularly the principle of self-determination, have been implemented. In this regard, I would like to underline the statement issued by the Co-Chairs on December 3, which emphasizes the comprehensive settlement based on fundamental principles.
Question: In that case, what does the post and the statement of the Prime Minister refer to? If you confirm the statement of the Co-Chair, does it turn out that the Prime Minister made a different statement?
Ara Aivazian: I do not comment on the statements or other comments of the Prime Minister, which are often taken out of context. I simply emphasize that the issue of status was a fundamental element of the principles for settlement.
Question: In fact, Popov contradicted the Prime Minister. Does Popov's statement contradict the Prime Minister's statement or not? Because, in fact, he countered, insisting that there has always been the issue of status. And there, in his article, the Prime Minister mentioned that the issue was about returning the regions, and no question of status. Popov's response to that question was that the issue of Artsakh's status was not bypassed, Mr. Minister.
Ara Aivazian: Please read carefully what the Prime Minister wrote, and what Popov said. Let's not focus on the comments and clarify it for ourselves that the issue of status has been and remains the main and the most important element for the settlement of the issue.
Question: Was this a signal from Russia, Mr. Aivazian, that this issue remains on the agenda for them?
Ara Aivazian: Not only by Russia, but also by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries; there have been two statements by the Co-Chairs noting that a comprehensive settlement based on fundamental principles must be reached.
Question: Mr. Minister, has the issue of status always been on the negotiating table - return of 7 regions, and status?
Ara Aivazian: I particularly highlighted the Kazan document, as it was the last proposal for a complete package of settlement. Thereon, various offers on different parameters have been made, but the Kazan was the last complete package.
Question: Regarding the prisoners of war: How can this issue be finally resolved, as we see that Prime Minister Pashinyan's visit to Moscow has not solved it? He stated that the issue has not been resolved. Do you think it is possible to solve the issue with the support of international organizations? On the other hand, we know that the Azerbaijani side declares that the Armenian prisoners of war are "terrorists". How do you assess their statements?
Ara Aivazian: On January 11, the Prime Minister specifically touched upon the issue of captives both in trilateral and bilateral formats. It is a priority for us today and we also must understand that this will not be easily solved. We have an interdepartmental working group and we work on a daily basis through all the channels. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also does not miss any opportunity to draw everyone’s attention to this issue. There is an understanding that peace and development must be established in the region, but the creation of an environment of trust is essential for that. And if Azerbaijan fails to fulfill its obligations on the humanitarian issue, then it is hard to imagine that all other issues can be implemented.
Question: Is it possible to set deadlines or should it have been done within the statement signed on November 9?
Ara Aivazian: I urge you to believe in our efforts, and I hope this issue will have a positive resolution.
Question: Mr. Aivazian, why was the issue of prisoners not resolved that day?
Ara Aivazian: I particularly said that we all understand that this issue is not the one to be solved in one day. We all understand that if it could be resolved in one day, then the issue would have already been resolved.
Question: Mr. Aivazian, what is the guarantee, what can motivate Azerbaijan to discuss this issue again, if Azerbaijan is working very hard to present our captives as saboteurs? In the November 9 statement it was about the captives, and Azerbaijan seems to be leading them to the fact that they are not prisoners of war, but saboteurs.
Ara Aivazian: The Foreign Ministry has already issued a statement on that regard and I call on You to once again read that statement.
Question: Mr. Aivazian, after Your visit to Stepanakert, Ilham Aliyev made a statement, claiming that from now on no Armenian official can visit Artsakh without Azerbaijan's permission. Your comment on this, please.
Ara Aivazian: The Foreign Ministry of Armenia also issued a statement. I would once again say that the statement of November 9 did not impose any restrictions on Armenian officials, foreign partners, or any other person to visit Artsakh and did not contain any element of clarifying the status. Therefore, we call on the Azerbaijani side to face the reality, to renounce its warmongering, anti-Armenian/Armenophobic rhetoric, if they are really ready to establish normal relations with the Republic of Armenia, to work together, to start negotiations for the final clarification of the status.