Remarks and the answers of the Foreign Minister of Armenia Ararat Mirzoyan to the questions of journalists at the joint press conference with the Foreign Minister of Russia Sergey Lavrov

09 June, 2022

Dear Sergey Lavrov,

Dear friends, 

I warmly welcome the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, my good friend Sergey Lavrov, who is on a working visit to Armenia.

This is our third meeting with Mr. Lavrov this year, and today we had a constructive and frank discussion on bilateral cooperation, as well as on multilateral platforms, regional and international security issues.

Dear Colleagues, 

This year we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our two countries, and the 25th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty on Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance. This is a very good opportunity to summarize the results of our joint work. I am confident that we will continue to develop our relations based on mutual trust and deep understanding of mutual interests.

As you know, Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan paid an official visit to Russia in April. The joint statement of the leaders of the two countries set important guidelines for the further development of our relations. A few days ago, the chairman of the Russian State Duma, my good friend Vyacheslav Volodin, was in Armenia on an official visit. Also, I myself was in Moscow on a working visit in April. At the end of the same month, the 34th sitting of the Armenian-Russian Inter-Parliamentary Commission took place in Armenia.

Days of Armenian Culture will start in Russia tomorrow. Days of Russian religious culture are scheduled in the second half of the year in Armenia. I must commend that the events planned for this jubilee year of our relations have an impressive engagement, and I am sure that all efforts will be made to carry out the planned work at a proper level, in accordance with the allied nature of the Armenian-Russian relations.

Today, together with my colleague we underlined the intensity of the interstate dialogue at all levels, including the highest. In the context of further promotion of the bilateral agenda, we positively assessed the effective work of all the existing mechanisms of our strategic alliance, including the activities of the intergovernmental commissions on trade, economic, as well as military-technical cooperation, the inter-parliamentary and interregional commissions. 

We also touched upon the issues of ensuring the frequency of consultations between the Ministries of Foreign Affairs within the framework of the implementation of the 2022-2023 program.

Ahead to tomorrow's session of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Collective Security Treaty Organization, we paid special attention to the issues of our close cooperation within the CSTO, where Armenia currently holds the presidency. We discussed cooperation within the EAEU, CIS and other international organizations.

Naturally, at the core of our discussions today were issues related to the possible document on the normalization of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, the process of settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

I reiterated the readiness of the Government of Armenia to make efforts aimed at achieving stability and peace in the region. In this context, addressing the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is of specific importance, which will include the key points of ensuring the security and all rights of the people of Artsakh and the final clarification of the status of Nagorno-Karabakh. The principles for the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict have been formulated by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship and we are interested in promoting the activities of this format, endowed with a mandate of a mediator by the international community. Let me remind that in their latest joint statement, the leaders of our countries reaffirmed the importance of using the potential and experience of the institute of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship in accordance with its international mandate.

Dear Colleagues,

The Russian Federation has played a key role in halting the aggression unleashed against the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. The deployment of the Russian peacekeeping contingent in Nagorno-Karabakh, as a factor to prevent provocations and ensure the security of the people of Artsakh, is called to create conditions for the restoration of normal life, stability and security in our region. Armenia continues to believe that the Russian peacekeeping mission is able to restore the status quo established by the November 9 Statement, the existent situation as of March 23, which was violated by the Azerbaijani armed forces on March 24 with the invasion of the village of Parukh in Nagorno-Karabakh.

We appreciate the efforts of Russia aimed at the implementation of the agreements undertaken by the Trilateral Statement of November 9, 2020, among which the issue of the return of the Armenian prisoners of war is extremely urgent. Due to these efforts, the return of a number of Armenian prisoners to their homeland became possible. At the same time, almost a year and a half - two years after the end of hostilities, in violation of international humanitarian law, Azerbaijan disrupts the implementation of the provisions of the Statement and refuses to return Armenian prisoners of war or other detainees. We hope that the Russian side will make even greater efforts in this direction.

The issue of preservation of a number of cultural and religious monuments of Artsakh, fallen under the control of the Azerbaijani armed forces, is also urgent. I have emphasized that due to continued vandalism and desecration by Azerbaijan, this issue requires immediate international involvement.

We should also mention the anti-Armenian and expansionist rhetoric  by the top leadership of Azerbaijan, continuous provocations and violations of the ceasefire regime.

Of course, we discussed issues regarding the unblocking of regional communications, and issues on delimitation and border security.

In the context of the unblocking of economic and transport communications, we stressed that the opening of regional communications can create new opportunities, including to diversify the logistic links between Armenia and Russia. The Trilateral Statement of January 11, 2021 outlines a clear framework for this process and we hope that the working group at the level of Deputy Prime Ministers, the last meeting of which took place recently in Moscow, will have its positive results.

We commended the first meeting of the Committee on Delimitation and Border Security between Armenia and Azerbaijan and expressed hope for the latter’s effective activity. It has already been announced that the next meeting in this format will take place in Moscow. We expect that the Russian side will provide its consulting support to this process in accordance with the agreements reached by the Trilateral Statement of Sochi signed on November 26, 2021. 

In conclusion, I would like to once again welcome Minister Lavrov and the delegation accompanying him, and pass the word to my colleague.

Thank You. 

Question: Thank you very much: Hello, Sergey Lavrov, hello Ararat Mirozyan. My question is addressed to both Ministers. As far as I understand, Sergey Lavrov, during the conversation with your colleague Cavusoglu yesterday, to some extent you have referred to the topic of Armenia-Azerbaijan relations. In what context was this topic touched upon during the talks today (as we observe, it was touched upon), to what extent is progress made in moving forward the positions of Baku and Yerevan? You just mentioned the possibility of signing a peace agreement, which is necessary to promote this work, including, of course, the factor of the Karabakh issue.

Answer: Thank you. As for the Armenia-Turkey dialogue, I must say that we are glad to hear statements from the Turkish authorities that they are going to and are ready to establish diplomatic relations with Armenia and open the Armenia-Turkey border. This is appreciated.

On the other hand, we see differences in approaches in the sense that even though Turkey states that this process should take place without any preconditions, we constantly observe a connection between Armenia-Turkey and  Armenia-Azerbaijan normalization processes. A connection that the Turkish authorities try to find or emphasize on every occasion. We do not consider it constructive.

There are some differences in the sense that we have different ideas about the pace. Nevertheless, I emphasize again that it is appreciable to hear Turkey’s statements on their willingness to open the closed border with Armenia.

As for the Armenia-Azerbaijan process, as Mr. Lavrov noted, there are several dimensions within which the negotiations are held. Definitely, the views do not coincide on many issues, but the negotiations are meant for reaching common lines on these conflicting points through compromises. We believe in the peace process. We think that in the normalization of Armenia-Azerbaijan relations it is impossible not to refer to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, not to address it, not to come up with a political settlement to that conflict. We also believe that this negotiation should take place within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship. This is the international format established to find a peaceful political resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

As Sergey Victorovich said negotiations are also carried out on issues of border delimitation and security. In fact, it is a little exaggerated to call this a negotiation for this stage, yet the process is launched; the first meeting took place and as we mentioned, the second meeting of the commissions will be held in Moscow.

We also see some positive progress in terms of unblocking regional economic infrastructure. Of course, it would be misleading to state that there is a complete understanding in this regard, but yet there is a positive dynamic. So I should emphasize that the continued behavior of not releasing the Armenian prisoners of war and other detainees by Baku, as well as the destruction of cultural monuments, and the anti-Armenian rhetoric and provocative actions in general, that we see from Baku, only hinder these processes. I would like to take this opportunity to once again draw the attention of Baku and our international partners to these issues.

Question: Ararat Samvelovich, mass protests demanding the resignation of the Prime Minister of the Republic have been going on in Yerevan for several weeks now. Does this mean that we are facing a new political crisis? If yes, how do you see the solution? Thank you. 

Answer: In response to your question, I can unequivocally state that there is no political crisis in Armenia, and I can bring two arguments or proofs of what I said; first of all, last summer snap parliamentary elections took place in Armenia, where the citizens of Armenia gave very clear answers to a number of questions and resolved the real existent political crisis. It should be mentioned that these elections have been recognized as democratic and transparent by all the observer missions. In other words, it proves that the citizens of Armenia definitely had an opportunity to express their position and make a decision.

Secondly, we observe how crowded or perhaps the paucity of the protests, at least as far as I have managed to follow up, and the picture does not demonstrate the support of the citizens of Armenia to those protests. But at the same time, I want to emphasize that Armenia is a democratic country, and everyone has the right to peaceful demonstrations. 

If we put aside the aspect of rights and touch upon the logical aspects of that process, I can express my private, personal position; I see some issues regarding the common sense there at least for myself and I can also say why. First, these political powers have the opportunity to carry out their activities in the parliament, criticize the authorities and ask questions in the sharpest way, which, unfortunately, or fortunately, they do not do. But again, it is their right.

The second and the most essential - the content-related part of the question․ As far as I have managed to follow up and understand, the powers organizing and holding demonstrations claim that Armenia is not pursuing the right policy regarding the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, is not pursuing the right policy regarding all the directions I mentioned with Azerbaijan, also regarding the process of normalization of relations between Armenia and Turkey, etc.

And here I must say that we have not seen announcements that in case of our government’s resignation and the transfer of power to those forces somehow, they are going to cancel, for example, the Trilateral Statement of November 9, or of January 11, 2021 and the November 26 Statement of Sochi, or they are going to exit the delimitation process, suspend the process of unblocking regional communications, etc. In other words, in the case of such announcements, it might have been logical, because I have already presented our approach and it has been known for a long time. And here, it would have been logical for these aspirational political powers, I suppose, to have the opposite position on these key issues. Again, I did not have much time to follow up, but as far as I managed to, I did not come across a word regarding stopping or exiting those processes, which allows me to assume that this topic is manipulated by the opposition in a not very beautiful way. That’s it. 

Question: After a relatively long break, on June 3, as you mentioned, the sitting of the working group on the unblocking of regional communications with the participation of the Deputy Prime Ministers of Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan took place in Moscow. How would you assess the results of the meeting in more detail, taking into consideration Azerbaijan's continuous arbitrary manipulation of the agreements on communications with the “corridor logic”? What prospects do you see in terms of having clearer results in this regard?

Answer: I also do not think the process has been delayed․ The discussions are being held at a working pace and atmosphere. I have already said that there is a common understanding and agreement on many issues in this direction. First of all, it refers to the fact that all the roads that need to be reopened or opened will remain and operate under the sovereignty of the countries through which they pass. Thus, naturally, corridor logic has nothing to do with this. And this, I want to emphasize, is a common perception.

At the same time, I   also had the opportunity to say today that there are many details on which the parties still have different views. But we continue to work on that and I think we will have mutually acceptable solutions.

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