Answers of the Foreign Minister of Armenia Ararat Mirzoyan to the questions of the MPs of the National Assembly during the Q&A session with the Government

09 February, 2022

Vagharshak Hakobyan: I would like to address my question to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.  Mr. Mirzoyan, for two days now, the statement of the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko has become a subject of discussion in the domestic political life of Armenia. We have reacted to that statement in the parliament, there is also information that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs received the ambassador of Belarus. I would also like You, as the Minister of Foreign Affairs, to refer to a statement from the number one tribune, and  to reveal  the  conversation with the Ambassador of Belarus.

Ararat Mirzoyan: Good afternoon, dear Parliamentarians. Mr. Hakobyan, I am sure that you are aware  of the comment of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs published yesterday on this matter. I would like to reaffirm that Alexander Grigoryevich's unique geopolitical analysis and comments have attracted the attention of various international partners, discussed in different countries for many times, including in our. I must reiterate our  conviction that these formulations were aimed at serving the domestic political agenda of the President of Belarus, and you can be sure that this has nothing to do with the foreign policy agenda of the Republic of Armenia.

I would also like to confirm the information that yesterday the Ambassador of Belarus to our country has indeed been invited to the Foreign Ministry, and conveyed our convictions to the Ambassador that our reciprocal statements should  take into account and be based on mutual respect, consideration of our interests, each other's sovereignty, and, the legal and other frameworks that the cooperation between our countries is established on. I want to add that we are still ready to continue supporting Belarus as much as possible at various international platforms in case of relevant appeals and official statements. Thank you.

Vagharshak Hakobyan: Mr. Mirzoyan, you know that these qualifications and subsequent comments can create the impression that there is a problem between the two countries. It is important to state that the people of Belarus are a brotherly, friendly people for us, and such statements should not affect our bilateral relations in any way. I am hopeful that Belarus has been following our statements and assessments, and from now on, they will be more cooperative in their statements.

Ararat Mirzoyan. I have already stated, dear Mr. Hakobyan, that our countries have a quite rich legal  base, and our cooperation is based on that ground. Of course, You are right; these relations are based on the traditional friendship between the two peoples. I just have to say that from now on,  the statements made at the highest level should also correspond to the assessments of the legal and friendly spirit and atmosphere I have mentioned. Thank you.

Artsvik Minasyan. One of the most important documents of both the foreign and defense policy of the Republic of Armenia is the National Security Strategy, where the following is written in black on white in the section of national goals: “The national goals of the Armenian people are the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide, overcoming and eliminating its consequences.” The question is the following: does the Government of the Republic of Armenia continue to support these goals or not?

Ararat Mirzoyan. Dear Mr. Minasyan, the Government of the Republic of Armenia consistently continues to implement all the commitments  undertaken in the Government's program: a program submitted by the Government and approved by this Parliament. The program clearly states that the Republic of Armenia will continue its efforts for the  recognition of the Armenian Genocide and the prevention of further manifestations of these crimes against humanity in the world. As an example and as a proof, I can cite the recent initiative of the Republic of Armenia to circulate once again a resolution on the prevention of genocides in the Human Rights Council.

Artsvik Minasyan. Mr. Mirzoyan, let me repeat my question, the formulation of the National Security Strategy, does this formulation continue being preserved or not? As a historian, you know very well that this wording, the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide, the overcoming and elimination of the consequences, is also one of the essential directions of the Armenian Cause. With the adoption of state policy, does the government continue? I want you to answer this wording; clearly, I am reading the wording in the national security strategy today; it was a straight quotation. 

Ararat Mirzoyan. Mr. Minasyan, I am convinced that I answered your question more than exhaustively. But I can add a little. As you can see in the government program, we consider the international recognition of the Armenian Genocide also in the context of the Republic of Armenia and the Armenian people and in the context of regional security. An additional guarantee, I repeat, for the Republic of Armenia and the Armenian people. I think this nuance also touches upon your question to some extent. I think the topic received more than a complete response.

Taguhi Ghazaryan. Thank you, dear MP's. I address my question to the Minister of Foreign Affairs Ararat Mirzoyan. Mr. Minister, it is already known that the second meeting of the special representatives of the two countries within the framework of the Armenia-Turkey settlement process will take place on February 24 in Vienna. If there is already a clarification on the agenda of the meeting, please inform and introduce it to us as well. Thank you.

Ararat Mirzoyan. Dear Mrs. Ghazaryan, thank you for the question. However, I think the primary addressee of your question is your parliamentary colleague Ruben Rubinyan, and you have many opportunities to find out from him.

Of course, I will not miss it and return to the issue. Yes, an agreement has been reached to hold the next meeting in Vienna on February 24. You know, and it was supposed that the first meeting was cognitive.

We hope that substantive discussions will begin between the special representatives this time, about opening the Armenia-Turkey border and establishing diplomatic relations. I want to repeat once again that the signals, messages, and hints coming from official Ankara are mainly in a positive context, and so are our expectations. Thank you.

Tagui Ghazaryan. Thank you very much, Mr. Minister, nevertheless, I am sure that we are pursuing a common policy, and the Foreign Ministry is responsible for foreign policy, and I am sure that Mr. Rubinyan is also coordinating work with you, official responses are significant.

I would also like to address an issue in the context of Armenian-Turkish relations. Recently, the Turkish Vice President announced that Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan would take part in a conference in Antalya in March. Although this statement was denied by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I would still like you to comment on what the statement was, what it meant and who received an invitation from us and whether we decide in what format we will participate or we will not participate. Thank you. 

Ararat Mirzoyan. Once again, thank you, Mrs. Ghazaryan, for raising the issue. I found out that there was a short-lived storm on that topic on the Armenian Facebook domain. I want to assure you once again. The RA Prime Minister's participation in the Antalya event has not been discussed and is not being discussed. I can probably assume that this is due to some nuanced, one might say, wrong translation, confusion, because, as far as I understand, the literal translation is the following: the Prime Minister of Armenia sent positive messages and said that he would participate in Antalya. Here “he” can refer to the country.

Going forward, I  would also like to answer that part of the question. An invitation was sent on behalf of me and Mr. Ruben Rubinyan. There is really no decision, as we say, and the decision will largely depend on the outcome of the meeting in Vienna on February 24.

Sona Ghazaryan. Honorable Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia, dear members of the Government, I address my question to Ararat Mirzoyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs. Mr. Minister, we know that recently the Minister of Culture of Azerbaijan Anar Kerimov announced the establishment of a working group to present the Armenian historical and cultural monuments of Artsakh as Albanian and to distort their Armenian identity. I would ask You to address this issue, as if I am not mistaken, an online meeting took place on February 4, where the visit of UNESCO to Yerevan and Baku was discussed. I would like You to inform the public about this. Thank You.

Ararat Mirzoyan. Dear Ms. Ghazaryan, I think you have noticed that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a statement in this regard regarding the position and intention of the Minister of Culture of Azerbaijan, and in that statement we strongly condemned that approach. In our opinion, this is another evidence that an attempt is being made to simply erase the traces of the presence of the Armenian people in Nagorno Karabakh and, in general, in the historical homeland.

And, perhaps, the assertions that this may be a manifestation of the policy of anti-Arminianism and ethnic cleansing that has lasted for years are correct. I can add, of course, that this is also a challenge for the International Court of Justice and in terms of the Court's decision of December 7 2021, on the application of urgent measures, which clearly states that the decision is urged, enforced. To prevent and punish the Azerbaijani authorities for vandalism and desecration of Armenian cultural heritage and religious heritage, including churches and other places of worship, monuments, and sights. Azerbaijan must fulfill its obligation imposed by the Court.

I must also say that at the moment, the intervention of UNESCO is becoming imperative here, and we welcomed the intention of UNESCO to send a mission to assess the region, and we also exchanged views on that on February 4. There are no precise dates or agreements, but the parties reaffirmed the importance of such a visit to the region.

And now, after this announcement, we are once again applying to UNESCO and planning offline meetings to discuss this issue. There is an important nuance. I want to add that in our view, this visit should take place under the principles of the 1954 Hague Convention on the Protection of Cultural Heritage in the Event of Armed Conflict.

Sona Ghazaryan. Mr. Mirzoyan, you are certainly well aware that the resolutions adopted by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in October last year and last week also reflected the process of importing fake Albanian culture to Azerbaijan, which is an assessment not only of the Armenian side but also of the international community.

As the bearers of parliamentary diplomacy, we try our best to communicate with our partners as leaders of the friendship group, and I am sure that our partners, parliamentary diplomats, also use all these formats. And I, let me say, as a bearer of parliamentary diplomacy, am ready to support the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to protect the Armenian historical and cultural monuments in Nagorno-Karabakh. And I would like you to suggest in your turn how we can support this process so that we can act faster because it is evident that the crosses and inscriptions from our churches are simply disappearing within days. This is unacceptable; we must act quickly in this context.

Ararat Mirzoyan. I very much welcome and encourage You, dear Mrs. Ghazaryan, your readiness to engage in this critical work with all my might. On behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, I would like to assure You that we are also ready to do our best to make the most justified and correct accents in Your speech and your contacts. I want to reaffirm to You and to all Your parliamentary colleagues in general that parliamentary diplomacy is an essential tool and should not be misused.

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