Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan's remarks and answers to journalists' questions at a joint press conference with Iran's Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian20 October, 2022
Distinguished Mr. Minister,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am glad to welcome my colleague and good friend - Foreign Minister of the Islamic Republic of Iran Hossein Amir Abdollahian in Yerevan.
Mr. Minister, thank you for accepting my invitation and visiting our country. Although we have recently had opportunities to communicate on various international platforms and through telephone conversations, I must mention that meetings held in our Capitals are significant.
Today, my friend Mr. Abdollahian and I commended consistently deepening multifaceted relations between our two countries, which are based not only on the thousand-year-old friendship and brotherhood of our peoples, but also on the deep understanding of our common national natural interests.
The core subject of our discussions was the situation on regional security and stability. I briefed my colleague on the developments regarding the elaboration of the Armenia-Azerbaijan peace treaty.
Of course, I touched upon the details and consequences of the large-scale aggression unleashed by Azerbaijan against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Armenia on September 13-14. I reaffirmed the imperative of the withdrawal of the Azerbaijani armed forces from the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia, the release and repatriation of the Armenian prisoners of war illegally held in Azerbaijan, the clarification of the fate of victims of enforced disappearances and the observance of the ceasefire regime.
We agree that the issues between the countries of the region should be resolved through negotiations and constructive dialogue, excluding the use of force or the threat of use of force.
We highly appreciate the principled and clear position of friendly Iran regarding the territorial integrity of Armenia, as well as the efforts of the Iranian side aimed at establishing stability and peace in the region.
During the meeting, my colleague and I discussed issues of our cooperation on both bilateral and multilateral platforms and expressed our willingness towards enriching the Armenian-Iranian agenda through joint efforts. We exchanged views on the prospects of giving a new impetus to the existing cooperation in the fields of trade, energy, transport, high-technology, and discussed the topic of continuing and completing great joint economic projects.
We attach particular importance to the strengthening of relations with Iran in the sphere of road infrastructure, and in this regard, of course, we should emphasize the importance of the implementation of the "Persian Gulf-Black Sea" international transport corridor project, which can include other beneficiaries and interested parties and states.
I am glad that this visit of Minister Abdollahian will also be marked by a very important event: the solemn opening ceremony of the Consulate General of the Islamic Republic of Iran in Kapan, which we will participate in tomorrow together with my colleague. This is a significant and symbolic step, which testifies to the readiness to raise the cooperation between our two countries and friendly peoples to a qualitatively new level. I am also confident that the Consulate General of Iran will make a positive contribution to the development of the trade-economic, transport, energy and scientific-cultural spheres in Syunik Region
Dear Mr. Abdollahian,
Let me once again thank you for being in Yerevan during this challenging and important time for our countries. I would like to conclude and give the floor to you.
Question: Dear Mr. Minister, agreements have been recently reached in Prague to resolve the border disputes between Azerbaijan and Armenia. I would like to know the mechanisms that have been discussed in order to resolve this issue.
Ararat Mirzoyan: Thank you for the question. Yes, as you mentioned, that meeting took place in Prague. And this is not the only meeting held and organized within the peace efforts. Our meetings on the peace treaty, as well as other issues in Armenia-Azerbaijan relations and the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, are ongoing on different platforms and in different formats. Everywhere we attempt to be constructive and find mutually acceptable solutions. Perhaps it will not be an exaggeration if I say that the main obstacle for actually achieving great progress everywhere is Azerbaijan's maximalist approach and reluctance to reach mutually acceptable solutions with Armenia. We hope that we can overcome this obstacle and manage to reach mutually acceptable situations and solutions in the near future.
Question: What stage is the Persian Gulf-Black Sea International Transport Corridor project at and what prospects can it open for the countries of the region? What steps are being undertaken to involve other countries, particularly India, in this project?
Ararat Mirzoyan: In addition to the honourable Minister's remarks, let me note that Armenia is really interested in the Persian Gulf-Black Sea transport corridor, and we, like Iran and Bulgaria, have already signed an agreement on this. Negotiations are also conducted with other countries, and with countries that haven’t originally been involved in this process. I think that the corridor will be interesting, including for India, and we will be able to eventually bring this idea to life. But I apologize and would like to continue answering the previous question as well. However, again continuing the topic of negotiations, I would like to state that I presented the constructiveness of the Armenian side and mentioned that, unfortunately, we only face the maximalist approach from Azerbaijan. But there is also a circumstance that I think can question the sincerity of the sides in building peace, at least of one side namely: while peace talks are underway, the threats of use of force are constantly voiced, or that force is actually being used on the ground, aggression is carried out by one negotiating country against the other negotiating country. In my opinion, probably, everyone in the world will agree that this is not the best way of sincere negotiations and is not the best example of peace, it is not a demonstration of the willingness to achieve peace. Thank you:
Question: My question concerns the construction of the corridor between Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan. I would like to hear your position in this regard.
Ararat Mirzoyan: Thank you for the question. I think, however, there was a mistake in the wording of the question. Certainly, the military aggression against Nagorno-Karabakh was ceased by the trilateral statement in 2020, and the following and interconnected trilateral statements also emphasized the importance of unblocking the transport and economic infrastructures of the region. And here, in the context of unblocking all these infrastructures, the statements also emphasized the establishment of transport communication between the main part of Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan. We participate in these discussions within the format of a trilateral working group. And as we have repeatedly stated previously, we are ready to open the roads for Azerbaijani passenger and cargo transportation as well. Certainly, we acknowledge and never question the fact that all infrastructures to be opened or newly built ones must remain under the sovereignty of the countries and operate according to the legislation of the countries which territory they pass, including the road you mentioned, through which Azerbaijani people can reach Nakhichevan from the main part of Azerbaijan, or, in general, citizens and cargo of third countries can use this road to reach their destination. We believe that there may be more modern solutions in this matter, such as electronic cargo declaration, etc. I don't want to go into too many details at this point…The main requirement that the Armenian side has in this regard is the following: the roads should remain under our sovereignty and operate under our legislation. Unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier, we are facing the uncompromising behaviour of Azerbaijan in this matter. I should also say that we see other third countries, sometimes even unexpected ones, supporting the Azerbaijani interpretation of this road. I repeat, and we have said this many times, that there can be no question of opening a corridor through the territory of Armenia with any regulations specific to extraterritorial status.
Question: My question is addressed to honourable Mr. Mirzoyan. Taking into account the process of normalization of relations between Armenia and Turkey since 2019, I would like to know what progress has been achieved in this regard, especially considering Turkey's support to Azerbaijan, as well as their statement about supporting Azerbaijan during the recent negotiations. I would like to know at what stage the process is and what are the expectations.
Ararat Mirzoyan: Thank you for the question. Indeed, this issue is also important for the regional geopolitical picture. You know that the two countries have appointed their special representatives, who have already had four meetings and substantive discussions in the direction of establishing diplomatic relations between Armenia and Turkey, as well as opening the closed border between the two countries - the border closed by Turkey. I would also like to mention that during this time I participated in the diplomatic forum in Antalya upon the invitation of the Foreign Minister of Turkey, and also in Prague, which we have mentioned before. The meeting of the Prime Minister of Armenia and the President of Turkey took place a few days ago. I should say that I positively assess the process, and indeed the landmark is the establishment of relations and the opening of the border. At the same time, I believe that our interlocutors in Turkey should less and less connect this process with the negotiation process between Armenia and Azerbaijan and, on the contrary, they should realize that the success of the Armenia-Turkey dialogue can have a positive impact on the Armenia-Azerbaijan negotiation. I want to say that sometimes the statements regarding these issues give us reason to think that, for example, Turkey is probably more interested in the opening of the corridor with an extraterritorial status than, for instance, Azerbaijan. I reiterate that Turkey’s more constructive position in the Armenia-Turkey process, on the contrary, would have a positive impact on the Armenia-Azerbaijan process.