Remarks of the Foreign Minister of Armenia Ararat Mirzoyan and the answers to the question of journalists at the joint press conference with the Foreign Minister of Norway Anniken Huitfeldt

18 October, 2022

Madam Minister,
Dear colleagues,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am delighted to welcome the Foreign Minister of the Kingdom of Norway Anniken Huitfeldt. After more than a decade-long break, this is the first high-level visit of the Norwegian side to Armenia.

We appreciate the presence of the Foreign Minister of friendly Norway in Yerevan, especially in the current period of numerous challenges, which is definitely a demonstration of Norway's solidarity with the Armenian people.

Notably, your visit is taking place in the year marking the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Armenia and Norway, and I am confident that it will be an incentive for reevaluating the existing potential in our relations and deepening cooperation in different dimensions.

Armenian-Norwegian relations are based on common values and democratic principles. In this context, we highly appreciate the readiness of Norway to support the reform agenda implemented by the Government of Armenia and the efforts aimed at strengthening democratic institutions. I am pleased to note that Norway is the biggest voluntary contributor to the Armenia - CoE 2019-2022 Action Plan. At the same time, I express my gratitude for the unprecedented support provided by Norway in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today, together with Madamme Minister, we discussed the prospects for expanding the cooperation between Armenia and Norway in fields of mutual interest. In this regard, I would like to emphasize the role of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of our countries, highlighting the importance of holding regular political consultations.

We expressed mutual commitment to undertake practical steps towards the full realization of the existing potential in the trade-economic sphere. We highlighted information technologies, renewable energy, and digital management as prospective areas of economic cooperation.

I would also like to inform that together with Madamme Minister we visited the Armenian Genocide Memorial today and paid tribute to the memory of the Genocide victims. The Armenian people remember Fridtjof Nansen, Norwegian humanist, a great friend of our people, and missionary Bodil Biørn with honor and gratitude. As an honorary tribute, the soil of the graves of the two prominent Norwegian humanists is embedded in the memorial wall of the Armenian Genocide Memorial Complex. We can state that the foundation for Norway to become a pioneer of human rights protection in the international arena was also such figures.

Dear attendees,

Regional and international developments were also the key subject of our discussions. I presented to my colleague the details of the elaboration of the Armenia-Azerbaijan peace treaty and our position on the settlement of the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh.

We discussed the situation resulting from the latest Azerbaijani aggression against the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia. We highly value Norway's targeted position, supporting Armenia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, and regarding the extrajudicial killings of Armenian prisoners of war by the armed forces of Azerbaijan.

In this regard, we hope that Norway, as a pioneer in the field of protection of democracy and human rights, will continue to adhere to its adopted position.

In terms of preventing further aggressions of Azerbaijan, I emphasized the introduction of international mechanisms for monitoring and control of the border situation and the support of international partners, including Norway, in this matter. I reaffirmed the imperative of the withdrawal of the Azerbaijani armed forces from the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia, the repatriation of the Armenian prisoners of war illegally held in Azerbaijan, and the unconditional observance of the ceasefire regime, reiterating the inadmissibility of resolving issues through the use of force and threat of use of force.

Madam Minister,

Once again, I thank you for the substantive discussions and yield the floor to you.

Question: Thank you, Mr. Mirzoyan. My question is addressed to you. Yesterday, the Ambassadors of the European Union confirmed that a monitoring mission will be deployed to Armenia. I wonder what Yerevan expects from this mission: it consists of a small number of people and the period of their activity is short.

Answer: Very well. In essence, our expectations haven't changed: we expect international participation, an international presence in the South Caucasus, and, in particular, in establishing peace on the Armenia-Azerbaijan border. This is in a broad sense. And specifically, I should say that we expect the mission to have a certain fact-finding component, which will prove Armenia's claims on the aggression being unleashed against the sovereign territory of Armenia, as well as the invasion of Azerbaijani armed forces into the internationally recognized territories of Armenia. But, of course, we must attribute to this mission an important mission of preventing further new attacks, new aggressions, and, as I said at the beginning - the establishment of stable peace in a broader sense. And I hope that this mission from the European Union will play a role in that matter.

Question: Adding to the question, during the last meeting with your Russian counterpart, the deployment of observers by the CSTO was also touched upon. I wanted to know if there is any development on this matter. And there is also some information that an appeal was made to the OSCE on the matter of observers. Has Yerevan appealed to the OSCE for the deployment of observers to the border of Armenia? Thank you.

Answer: Yes, you are right. The subject of the deployment of OSCE observers to our borderline, to the Armenia-Azerbaijan border from the territory of Armenia, is also being discussed. We will have certainty on this matter in the very near future.

As for the CSTO observers, we appealed to the organization we are a member of, and a decision was made in that organization, to send a so-called preliminary observation or fact-finding mission. Those officials came and prepared a report based on their observations. The report is submitted to all member states. The Secretariat has also circulated a draft decision based on the report.

We touched upon in our discussions the timing of the session of the CSTO Council, namely the highest body, where the leaders of the countries can also discuss the mandate of the new observation mission. These are the current developments. There is no decision, there are discussions. The session of the Council should be held. Also, in this context, I want to emphasize that the political assessment of the situation presented by our allied states is extremely important for us. First of all, we need to understand to what extent the organization acknowledges the existing situation, i.e. aggression against the Republic of Armenia and invasion into its sovereign territory.

Question: Mr. Minister, yesterday the Foreign Minister of Turkey stated that Azerbaijan rightfully says that the Lachin Corridor and the Zangezur Corridor should have the same status. And in that regard, I will ask one more question. The Foreign Minister of Turkey has also expressed his willingness to meet with you. What can you say about those two questions? Also, what should we expect in the future regarding the Turkey-Armenia process? Thank you.

Answer: You quoted: "Azerbaijan rightfully says...". I have to say that there is a lot of exaggeration in this wording. I should reveal that Azerbaijan does not state such a thing, and those who say this, surely cannot say it rightfully. I will not hide that Azerbaijan or the representatives of Azerbaijan in the negotiations do not insist and propose to have a road that will have the same regulations as the Lachin Corridor. If Mr. Cavusoglu introduces this component in the negotiations, it would probably be better if he spoke on his own behalf. I repeat, Azerbaijan does not say such a thing and in fact, none of the sides can rightfully claim such a thing, because the regulations were stipulated in the Statement of November 9 and later also broadened by the Trilateral Statement of January 11, 2021. Both Statements are publicly available and posted on the official websites of the countries, and everyone can get acquainted. There is the Lachin Corridor, which is a lifeline for the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh, and then there is the topic of unblocking the region's transport and economic infrastructure. And in this context, reference is also made to the new road connecting Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan.

In this regard, we have expressed our position many times and it has not been changed. All roads, including existing ones and the ones to be supposedly constructed, must operate under the sovereignty and jurisdiction of the countries through which they pass. According to my subjective perception, there is some progress in this regard, and I am optimistic that the negotiations in this direction can be successfully completed in the near future.

Regarding our dialogue with Turkey, we have always openly and publicly expressed our position. We are interested in the success and successful conclusion of the dialogue, and any meeting that will help to achieve that successful conclusion can certainly be held. I have never opposed such a meeting. Another thing is that during these meetings, the parties should undertake sincere and serious steps in the direction of establishing diplomatic relations and opening the border. I reiterate my readiness for such a meeting. I hope that if it happens, it will eventually produce tangible results.

Question: Mr. Minister, recently active diplomatic contacts have been going on between the officials of Armenia and Azerbaijan. First, you had a meeting with Mr. Bayramov in Geneva, then a quadrilateral meeting in Prague, and then a trilateral meeting in Astana. What is next? What should we expect next, and what expectations can the Armenian side have from such active diplomatic contacts? Thank you.

Answer: Thank you. I should underscore that, in fact, active meetings have been taking place recently, and we are committed and will make every effort to continue active work to finally establish a truly stable and long-lasting, and just peace in the region. In this regard, our expectations and attitude have not changed. Another thing is that parallel to these negotiations, we continuously see non-constructive, I would say, maximalist behavior from Azerbaijan. We also see an attempt to affect these negotiations through the use of force or the threat of use of force. Only in this way, in this context and with this interpretation do I observe Azerbaijan's latest aggression, which we know was preceded by another aggression, which in its turn was preceded by provocative action and also rhetoric. Obviously, such actions do not contribute to a constructive atmosphere and constructive negotiations. But despite this, and following our previous course of action and expressing our previous conviction, we believe that final resolutions must be reached at the negotiating table. We are ready to continue those efforts.

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