Statement for press by Foreign Minister Ara Aivazian following a meeting with Ann Linde, the Foreign Minister of Sweden and OSCE Chairperson-in-Office16 March, 2021
I would like to welcome my counterpart Ann Linde in Armenia within her visit as the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office. Today we had substantive discussions during the tet-a-tete meeting and talks in extended format, touched upon the priorities of the Swedish Chairmanship in the OSCE, a wide range of issues on regional security and stability, as well as the Armenian-Swedish bilateral agenda.
Today, you are visiting Armenia in your capacity as the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office. It’s noteworthy that amid these challenging times for the European security, Sweden, which is well-known for its contribution to international peace, has assumed the leadership of this important organization.
Using this opportunity I would like to congratulate you and wish fruitful work in this responsible mission. Unfortunately, your visit to the region scheduled for last September was postponed because of war unleashed by Azerbaijan against Artsakh.
The use of force by Azerbaijan in the context of the conflict was a gross violation of the OSCE commitments, including the Helsinki Final Act.
Throughout the war, the armed forces of Azerbaijan, with the active support of Turkey and in violation of international humanitarian law, committed mass atrocities, including ethnic cleansing and war crimes against the Armenians of Artsakh, deliberately targeting civilian population, including women, children and elderly, as well as civilian infrastructure and cultural heritage sites.
Moreover, even four months after the end of hostilities, Azerbaijan continues to violate international humanitarian law, by holding Armenian prisoners of war and captured civilians.
The transfer of thousands of foreign terrorist fighters and mercenaries from the Middle East to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone with direct engagement and coordination of Turkey, and their involvement in hostilities against the Armenians of Artsakh, was not only a violation of international law, but also a violation of the OSCE commitments. It set two dangerous precedents: the attempt to resolve conflict through mass atrocities and use of force, and the mass import of terrorist fighters from other regions into the OSCE area of responsibility, which should be unequivocally condemned.
With the trilateral statement signed to stop the Turkish-Azerbaijani aggression and with the deployment of Russian peacekeepers in Artsakh, the conflict entered a new stage of development. We consider the trilateral statement as a document aimed at restoring the ceasefire and reaffirming the security. Although it contains some provisions concerning the peaceful settlement, however it does not address its key elements, and the most important among them is the issue of the status of Artsakh, based on the right of the Armenians of Artsakh to self-determination. A final political solution to the conflict is possible only within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship.
Recent developments in the region have underlined the need for a strong OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship, which will be able to lead the peace process on the basis of principles and elements developed over the years. We also need a strong, cohesive OSCE as an institute responsible for regional security and peace. In this context, we attach importance to the role of the OSCE Chairmanship, including the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office.
Armenia and the Armenian people have always and sincerely advocated for peace. As a nation that survived the first genocide of the 20th century, we know the value of peace and security. At all stages of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, Armenia has been in favor of an exclusively peaceful settlement of the issue. Today as well, we are fully aware of the opportunities that peace and real reconciliation can bring to our region, but peace is not just a pretty word. The peace built on the basis of the destruction of the civilian settlements of Artsakh, including the Hadrut region, the annihilation of the Armenian population and the creation of Azerbaijani settlements instead, cannot be sustainable and lasting. We will continue our fight for a just and dignified peace, by working closely with our international partners.
In April-August this year Armenia will assume the Chairmanship of one of the OSCE decision-making bodies - the Security Cooperation Forum. In this context we expressed our willingness to work closely with the Chairmanship of Sweden to address issues the organization faces in the political-military sphere.
As I mentioned, during today’s meeting we have also touched upon the Armenian-Swedish bilateral agenda. Relations between Armenia and Sweden are based on mutual respect; we share the same perspective of raising it to a qualitatively new level. Today’s meeting was a good opportunity to touch upon the potential of cooperation in various spheres and to outline the joint steps to be undertaken for its full utilization. Of course, the active work of our Ambassadors and Embassies on the ground has a specific role in this process, and in this context I would like to welcome the launch to the activity of the resident Embassy of Sweden in Armenia.
We appreciate the support provided by the Swedish side in implementing the reform agenda in Armenia.
During the discussions with Mrs. Linde we have touched upon the issues regarding the Armenia-EU partnership. Accepting my colleagues congratulations on the entry into force of the Armenia-EU Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement, I expressed confidence that the full implementation of the agreement will provide new opportunities for further strengthening of cooperation with the EU and its member states.
With this I conclude my remarks and pass the floor to Mrs. Linde.