Press statement of Foreign Minister of Armenia Ararat Mirzoyan and answers to the questions of journalists during a joint press conference with Foreign Minister of Luxembourg Jean Asselborn22 February, 2023
On February 22, Foreign Minister of Armenia had a meeting with Jean Asselborn, the Foreign Minister of Luxembourg, who is in Armenia on an official visit.
The Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Luxembourg had a tête-à-tête meeting, then in an enlarged format, which was followed by a press conference of the Foreign Ministers of the two countries.
Dear Mr. Minister,
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am pleased to host the Minister for Foreign and European Affairs of Luxembourg, a good friend of mine and our people, Jean Asselborn and his delegation.
Minister, we had a chance to meet last year within the framework of my visit to Luxembourg, and your reciprocal visit is a good opportunity to continue our fruitful discussions on our bilateral agenda as well as international and regional issues of mutual interest.
Today, we commended the high level of Armenia-Luxembourg political dialogue, discussed the prospects of expanding our bilateral cooperation anchored on democratic values, common perceptions and mutual trust.
In this context, we touched upon the ambitious reform agenda of Armenia aimed at strengthening human rights protection and the rule of law, ensuring good governance and an uncompromised fight against corruption. As you know, according to international authoritative indexes, Armenia has made continuous progress, and is positioned as a regional leader in some areas. I would like to reaffirm that we are determined to continue the path of democratic reforms and expect the continued support and cooperation of our partners.
We expressed our mutual commitment with Minister Asselborn to take practical steps towards fully realising the existing potential in economic, scientific and cultural fields. In this context, high-tech, digital finance, creative education represent the most promising areas.
We touched upon the effective cooperation between our countries within the frameworks of international organisations and platforms. In this regard, we highlight the importance of our expanding cooperation with the EU and appreciate Luxembourg's contribution to deepening our partnership with the Union.
The developments of regional security and stability were also the key subject of discussions. I presented to my colleague the latest developments in the process of the normalisation of Armenia-Azerbaijan relations. I would like to emphasise that Azerbaijan should abandon its expansionist approaches, warmongering rhetoric and aspirations towards the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia and enter the area of constructive discussions and negotiations in good faith.
In the context of regional security and stability, together with Mr. Asselborn, we also emphasised the importance of deploying the EU Civilian Monitoring Mission, which, as you know, was launched two days ago. Once again, I expressed gratitude for the decision to deploy a long-term EU Monitoring Mission in Armenia. I am confident that it will play its role in strengthening the stability and peace in the region.
Together with my colleague we discussed the need for an immediate resolution of the humanitarian crisis evolving in Nagorno-Karabakh as a result of the illegal blockade of the Lachin Corridor. I informed that Azerbaijan’s blockade of the Lachin Corridor is a violation of international humanitarian law and also of the Trilateral Statement of November 9 signed by them.
Along with the humanitarian crisis for two and a half months, Azerbaijan has also provoked an energy crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh. In cold winter conditions, the authorities of Azerbaijan have repeatedly disrupted and continue to disrupt the gas supply from Armenia to Nagorno-Karabakh. The electricity supply to Nagorno-Karabakh has also been blocked.
The purpose of these actions of Azerbaijan is clear: to create unbearable conditions for the people of Nagorno-Karabakh to leave their historic homeland. This is also testified by the open and public statements of the top leadership of Azerbaijan.
We would like to stress the need for constant attention and clear actions of the international community to prevent the ethnic cleansing of the Armenian population of Nagorno-Karabakh. The deployment of an international fact-finding mission to the Lachin corridor and Nagorno-Karabakh for the assessment of the humanitarian situation is one of the important steps in that direction. Unhindered access of international humanitarian organisations, including the UN specialised bodies, to Nagorno-Karabakh is also essential.
We highly appreciate friendly Luxembourg's principled and clear stance on issues of vital importance for Armenia, including the occupation of Armenia's sovereign territories, the humanitarian crisis evolving around Nagorno-Karabakh, as well as the immediate release of Armenian prisoners of war, both on bilateral and multilateral platforms. This once again testifies that democratic Armenia is not alone and enjoys the support of the partner states that share the same values.
And once again, I would like to reiterate that despite the existing challenges and hardships, the promotion of the peace agenda is the priority for the Republic of Armenia. We do believe that the exclusion of addressing issues through the use of force or the threat of using force, as well as the constructive involvement in solving the existing problems, will be the basis for the peaceful coexistence of our generations.
Luxembourg is a principled and reliable partner of Armenia and this approach is deeply mutual. Once again, I thank you for the fruitful discussions and yield the floor to you.
Within the framework of the visit, accompanied by Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia Ararat Mirzoyan, Foreign Minister of Luxembourg visited the Armenian Genocide Memorial and paid tribute to the memory of the victims of the Genocide.
Question ("Radio Liberty"): I want to address my question to Mr. Ararat Mirzoyan. Mr. Mirzoyan, there should be checkpoints at the beginning and end of the "Zangezur Corridor", also between Lachin and Armenia. After the Munich meeting, the president of Azerbaijan told the journalists that they presented their proposal to the Armenian side. I want to know what is the official opinion of Yerevan, is it acceptable for you?
And as a follow up, Mr. Mirzoyan, let me ask one more question. One of the MPs of the ruling Civil Contract declares that Azerbaijan demands from Armenia the so-called "Zangezur Corridor" in exchange for opening Lachin. I want to understand where this information came from, Mr. Mirzoyan, if the Armenian side insists that we do not negotiate with the Azerbaijani side on the issue of Lachin. Is there such a thing? Does Azerbaijan make such a demand?
Ararat Mirzoyan: Thank you for the question. The answer to this question can be found in the question itself. Indeed, the idea to station checkpoints at the beginning of the Lachin corridor has been voiced, but our answer is definitive and we publicly announced our position to this idea shortly, if not immediately after the blockade of the Lachin corridor, and our position remains the same.
The regulations of Lachin Corridor have been negotiated and have been signed by the sides, including by the Azerbaijani president. I am speaking about the November 9 Statement. The renegotiation of the regulations of the Lachin corridor, by the way again as a result of use of force, is not and can not be an acceptable solution for us.
You cited an assessment, and indeed, while analysing the situation we can see this Azerbaijani narrative, actually, an expectation to receive a corridor equivalent to the Lachin Corridor and unblock the Lachin Corridor in return. This narrative isn’t new either, and neither is our position to this, thus there is no need to state our position again. We have the Lachin Corridor, which, throughout the whole negotiation process, by the way even before the recent war has been classified as a humanitarian corridor taking into account the fact that the Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh have been isolated, fully surrounded by Azerbaijani territory, and the only road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia and the world is the Lachin Corridor. Thus, the importance of the Lachin corridor has been acknowledged by the sides, including Azerbaijan. At the present day, that importance has been taken into account in the November 9 Statement which clearly sets the regulations of the Lachin corridor, as I already mentioned.
As for the unblocking of other infrastructures in the region, it is also reflected both in the document of November 9 and the following document, particularly, in the document of January 11, 2021, and then it was discussed during the negotiations.
Our position remains the same, and it is very constructive. We can start unlocking these roads as soon as it is agreed that all such roads to be unblocked, including railway and other roads, must operate within the framework of the sovereignty and legislation of the countries through which they pass. This, I think, is a very reasonable and at the same time very constructive and very transparent approach, and it is our proposal and our readiness.
You mentioned Munich. In Munich, we had the opportunity to present our constructive approaches to unblocking and respecting the agreements on the Lachine Corridor and other roads, and our approach remains the same. We, I repeat, exclude and do not welcome the policy of changing existing agreements by the use of force and threats of new use of force or extracting such new concessions at the expense of the interests of one side, I would say the aggressive policy that we see and that is expressed in the statements and those proposals that you mentioned.
Question ("Public TV"): Mr. Mirzoyan, my question is for you. What further developments can we expect from the discussion between the Prime Minister of Armenia and the president of Azerbaijan organised by the mediation of Mr. Blinken in Munich? On that day, Ilham Aliyev announced at the panel discussion that there is an understanding to hold discussions with the people of Nagorno-Karabakh regarding their rights and security.
And, despite Aliyev's controversial wording, can this be considered a positive step forward in Azerbaijan's position, given that until recently Azerbaijan has generally denied such a possibility in public statements? Thank you.
Ararat Mirzoyan: You have really focused on an important part and you have voiced an important part. Yes, from the beginning, when we initiated the discussions on the peace treaty with Azerbaijan, there was an understanding and agreement to conduct these negotiations in two main tracks.
One track is about the establishment and normalisation of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan and, as we call it, the peace treaty, and the other is certainly a format, a platform where the rights and security of the population living in Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenians, should be discussed. And for a long time, we see that Azerbaijan, in fact, avoids getting involved in this conversation. And in Munich, by the way, not only during the panel discussion, but also during the discussions of the Blinken-Aliev-Pashinyan format as you mentioned, we received the readiness and assurance of the Azerbaijani side that these discussions, this internationally visible dialogue between Baku and Stepanakert should happen.
On the other hand, during these last years, we have continuously seen that agreements are reached, assurances and promises are given, and then we see a retreat from these positions even from the signed and well-known agreements, as a while ago we were speaking about the document of November 9. I hope this time it won't happen, and we won't see the same behaviour again, that is, a retreat from the expressed readiness.