Remarks and the answers to the questions of journalists of Foreign Minister of Armenia Ararat Mirzoyan during a joint press conference with the Foreign Minister of Austria

02 February, 2022

“Good afternoon, dear colleagues,

Dear Minister, Mr. Schallenberg,

I welcome your visit to Yerevan, the Republic of Armenia. It is noteworthy that this visit coincides with the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries. I am glad to note that many joint projects have been implemented during these 30 years․ There is a serious experience of political, economic, cultural dialogue and cooperation.

Indeed, we have not realized the full potential existing in the relations between our two countries, and I hope that this visit will be a stimulus for us to go through that direction and move to the next stage of our relations. In this regard, it is my pleasure to note that Mr. Schallenberg is accompanied by a serious Austrian business delegation, and we will have the opening of an Armenian-Austrian business forum tomorrow. I want to underline another remarkable fact as well: during this visit we will open together the office of the Austrian Development Agency in Yerevan, which will be one of the important measures to continue our cooperation through.

Mr. Minister, I would like to brief our partners on our discussion related to both bilateral relations and the region, as well as the latest developments in the world. I presented to Minister Schallenberg the developments in our region, and the issues related to Nagorno-Karabakh and the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. I have also briefed on the latest developments in the Armenia-Turkey dialogue.

I am pleased to note that Mr. Schallenberg (I am sure, will state in his speech) unequivocally welcomes and supports the format of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship for their efforts to resolve yet unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. He also expressed his support for the solution of all existing humanitarian problems, such as the issue of our prisoners of war, the preservation and accessibility of cultural monuments.

We will also have the opportunity for the Q&A session today. I will pass the floor to my colleague. Welcome, please.”


The remarks of the Foreign Minister of Armenia after the speech of the Foreign Minister of Austria

“Thank you for your warm words, Mr. Minister. I hope that this time when you leave Yerevan we will say goodbye not only as partners, but also as friends. And also, I want to emphasize again the importance of cooperation between business communities, also emphasize that Armenia is a democratic country, Armenia is a country with a free and truly competitive market, with economic relations. Armenia is a country that fights irreconcilably against corruption. In this regard, I think that the necessary conditions have been created for Austrian businessmen to pursue their interests. Let us now turn to the questions with your permission.”

Question: I would like to address my question to the Foreign Minister of Austria. Mr. Minister, after the Second Artsakh War there were a number of humanitarian issues in the Republic. First of all, of course, we are talking about the prisoners of war and captured civilians who continue to be held in Baku. Despite various urges, Azerbaijan refuses to return people to Armenia. The second important issue is the blocking of the access of international humanitarian organizations to the Republic of Artsakh. Unfortunately, these organizations do not have the opportunity to work in those areas. How do you see the role of the international community in resolving these two important issues for Armenia? Thank you.

Ararat Mirzoyan: Even though the question was not addressed to me, I will respond anyway, because the Minister said very important things and I would like to make a small addition. Indeed, no matter how much the international community uses its toolkit to encourage the parties to come to an agreement, it is still essential that the parties themselves have that political will. I think you and the whole world have observed the readiness of the Republic of Armenia to build peace in our region, to resolve all the issues. We have stated this not only publicly, but also in our Government program. It was adopted in the National Assembly, followed by elections; people of Armenia, in fact, voted for that peace. 

And at this point we must state with sorrow that we do not always have, and in fact we always receive opposite messages from official Baku. As an example, you should observe the recent statement of the President of Azerbaijan. As in the past, so today, I reiterate that Armenophobic rhetoric, aggressive rhetoric, aggressive actions at the border, failure to solve humanitarian problems, such as the continued presence of prisoners of war in Azerbaijan, to put it mildly, do not contribute to a constructive environment. I would like to add that although it was not enshrined in the trilateral ceasefire statement, however, the Armenian side provided Azerbaijan with minefield maps, as we are not interested in the death of people, we have unilaterally resolved this issue.

I also would like to refer to international organizations. Regrettably Azerbaijan's non-constructive approach is obvious here, because they are forcing not only other international organizations, but even the International Committee of the Red Cross - a humanitarian organization with no political context, to fit into the policy that they envisage. This is the only organization that has been presented, has had  an entry and exit to Nagorno-Karabakh during these years, and now Azerbaijan, in fact, even restricts this.

In conclusion, I should reiterate that we want a constructive dialogue, a solution to all issues, as you mentioned, with the aim of establishing peace and stability in the region, and here, the reciprocal position of Azerbaijan is required.

Question: How is the normalization process between Armenia and Turkey going?

Thank you for the question. This is actually an important issue that interests not only the Armenian public but, I suppose, also the citizens of Turkey as well as all of our international partners. I must say that almost nothing has changed in the position of the Republic of Armenia on this issue over the years. As during all the previous 25, 30 years, today Armenia also believes that the borders between Armenia and Turkey should open and diplomatic relations should be established between our countries without any preconditions. And with that purpose and expectation we once again re-entered this dialogue. 

You know that only one meeting has been held so far, and many substantive issues have not been touched upon, but there are certain positive impulses that the process will be successful. However, I would once again note that this is one of those issues that clearly do not depend on the position of one side. Thank you. 

Question. Thank you. I address my question to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia. You have just referred to the normalization of Armenian-Turkish relations, can you say whether official Yerevan has finally made a decision to participate in the Antalya conference at this moment? Are you going to participate or will Mr. Rubinyan? Is there anything new in this issue, when will the next meeting between the representatives of Armenia and Turkey take place? You also briefly referred to the recent statements of the President of Azerbaijan, however, in your opinion, how are these words of Mr. Aliev and the Armenia-Azerbaijan relations viewed against the background of the negotiations? Thank you.  

Ararat Mirzoyan. First of all, in the context of the Armenia-Turkey dialogue process, yes, Mr. Rubinyan and I were invited to participate in the Antalya event; in fact, we recently discussed the event with Mr. Schallenberg. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Armenia has not made a decision on this yet. The issue is being discussed.   

I just want to emphasize that this, in essence, is not a bilateral visit; it should not be considered in a bilateral context, this is an international diplomatic event, in which the Republic of Armenia may decide to participate. Not only do I see no problem there, but also I think that, even if we connect it with the Armenia-Turkey dialogue, it has nothing but positive aspects. 

As for your question on Azerbaijan, I must simply repeat that in the conditions when Armenia is really interested and demonstrates its readiness to build peace, stability in the region, we must observe the same constructive approach from the other side - Azerbaijan. I reiterate, this aggressive, anti-Armenian rhetoric does not contribute to the creation of a proper constructive atmosphere.

Additionally, ICJ made relevant decisions on December 7, and one of those decisions recorded the anti-Armenian rhetoric by Azerbaijani officials. It is very clearly stated in the decisions, it is called and forced on the top leadership of Azerbaijan to refrain from such rhetoric. This is a very strong reason why I think they should stop that. Thank you. 

Question: Minister Mirzoyan, would it be good for Armenia to have a peace treaty with Azerbaijan, rather sooner than later and what are red lines from the side of Armenia for such a peace treaty? 

Ararat Mirzoyan. Indeed, you raise an important question and the answers, I think, are more than obvious. I just talked about the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmanship, and I would like to go into details now. The OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship is the international format with a unique mandate to find a political solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Well, the settlement of the issue has not been found yet. We must continue the negotiations in that dimension, and the clarification of parameters of comprehensive peace agreement and the elaboration of such an agreement and accordingly the signing of the latter in one of the results of the political settlement.  

And in this case it is essential to remember the principles that this Co-Chairmanship has elaborated over the years: one of those principles was the rights of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, in particular, the right to self-determination. And one of those principles, for example, is the non-use of force, which, unfortunately, we saw to be brutally violated in 2020. And now not only Armenia, Azerbaijan, and the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, but also the whole world must decide whether the non-use of force remains a fundamental principle or the states can allow themselves to decide the most important issues and the fate of peoples with the use of force, under the threat of use of force, because if the principle is violated once, it probably opens the door for others to follow that path.

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