Press statement of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia Ararat Mirzoyan and answers to the questions of journalists during a joint press conference with Catherine Colonna, the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France28 April, 2023
On April 28 Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia Ararat Mirzoyan met with Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs of the French Republic Catherine Colonna, who is in Armenia on an official visit.
The meeting was followed by a press conference of the foreign ministers of the two countries. Foreign Minister Mirzoyan's statement for the media and answers to the questions of journalists is below:
Dear Minister, dear friend,
I welcome with pleasure the Minister of Europe and Foreign Affairs of France, the friendly country of Armenia, my good friend Catherine Colonna and the delegation led by her.
Madame Minister, thank you for accepting my invitation and visiting Armenia. Yesterday we visited Armenian Genocide Memorial together, then the Prime Minister of the Republic of Armenia hosted us, today you had the opportunity to visit Jermuk, we had a tête-à-tête meeting.
It is a good opportunity to continue our previous productive discussions on Armenian-French bilateral relations, which are based on the shared values of common history, civilization, democracy and human rights. With my colleague, we have reaffirmed our interest and readiness to further expand the rich agenda between Armenia and France to enrich the already privileged relations with new content in various fields, taking into account today's challenges.
The Armenian-French political dialogue at the highest level and the mutual determination to strengthen it is well established. It was reaffirmed by the leaders of the two countries last year by their participation in the "Aspirations: Armenia-France" conference, as well as by signing the "Roadmap for the Armenian-French Economic Cooperation for 2021-2026". We have agreed to ensure the implementation of the road map with active steps. It is our common interest to have tangible results in this field, which will be consistent with our political dialogue.
I would like to add that an important factor for the promotion of the economic agenda is the already established effective cooperation with the French Development Agency (AFD) and the possibility of its expansion.
We have attached great importance to close cooperation in a number of other fields, including education, science, culture, and healthcare. For example, I mentioned our satisfaction with how France shares Armenia's success with the activity of TUMO centres in already two French cities - Paris and Lyon. We also touched upon the activities of educational institutions covering all French educational circles in Armenia, which were supplemented by the French Institute this year.
These days, as every year, the "Saison de la Francophonie" is taking place in Armenia, spreading the French culture and Francophonie throughout Armenia with around 700 events. I would like to add that our special cooperation with France is also demonstrated by continuous effective cooperation within the framework of the International Organization of la Francophonie.
Today, we commended our inter-parliamentary cooperation, which has a unique place in our comprehensive bilateral agenda, both in a bilateral format and on multilateral parliamentary platforms. We emphasised the importance of strengthening decentralised cooperation which is developing at a new pace and has significant potential for expansion.
I should mention that we also discussed with my colleague a number of issues of intensively developing partnership between Armenia and the European Union. In the context of security and stability in the region, we emphasised the importance of the activities of the EU Civilian Monitoring Mission in Armenia. I highly appreciated the leading role of France and especially the important contribution in this direction after the meeting in Prague in October 2022.
We can talk about the partnership between Armenia and France a lot: the path is long, there are many achievements and new opportunities. However, Minister Colonna's visit takes place in a difficult period when we are facing serious threats and challenges to regional security.
Today at our meeting, I expressed my gratitude for France's principled positions on the existing issues at all levels and in various formats, including the elimination of the consequences of Azerbaijani aggression against the sovereign territory of Armenia, also, as the co-chair country of the OSCE Minsk Group, the advancement of the process of peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. I particularly emphasised the engagement of French President Macron in establishing peace and stability in the South Caucasus.
Despite the criticism of the international community and the legally binding decision of the International Court of Justice of February 22, after keeping the Lachin corridor under blockade for more than four months, on April 23, Azerbaijan, grossly violating the provision 6 of the November 9, 2020 Trilateral statement, has already officially blocked the Lachin corridor, taking steps to install a checkpoint in the corridor, in the area of responsibility of the Russian peacekeeping contingent. This is another, but extremely dangerous by its consequences, flagrant violation of the Trilateral statement. It is impossible not to see the real threat of ethnic cleansing in Nagorno-Karabakh behind this and the already open calls and hate speech of the Azerbaijani authorities aimed at forcing the people of Nagorno-Karabakh to leave.
This should also be clear to the international community, and in this context, I have once again emphasised the imperative of active steps by the UN member states having international security mandate, including sending an international mission to Nagorno-Karabakh and the Lachin corridor and ensuring the unimpeded access of international humanitarian organisations.
Contrary to the calls of the international community, Azerbaijan continues to violate all other provisions of the Trilateral statement of November 9, 2020, refusing to return all Armenian prisoners of war and civilian captives more than two years after its signing.
Despite Armenia's willingness to resolve the existing problems through constructive negotiations, Azerbaijan continues its occupation of the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia and its aggressive actions, which are provocative and contradict the statements made as a result of the Prague and Sochi meetings. I want to remind you that in the context of these statements, the Alma-Ata declaration plays a fundamental role and the Armenian side was and remains fully loyal to it.
The Armenian side is committed to the efforts to establish stability in the region. For this purpose, Armenia continues negotiations on the draft agreement on normalisation of relations with Azerbaijan. I should emphasise that for a comprehensive and lasting settlement, the imperative to solve all existing problems without the use of force or the threat of use of force and addressing the rights and security issues of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh under the format of an internationally guaranteed dialogue is key.
We sincerely expect France's continued strong engagement and efforts on the issues mentioned above.
Once again, I thank you for our comprehensive discussions in a friendly atmosphere and pass the floor to you".
Thank you, Madame Minister, for your touching words. I also want to join your words of appreciation to our two ambassadors: distinguished ambassadors, thank you. I would also like to thank the chairman of the Armenia-France inter-parliamentary group, as I also attach great importance to the fact that the head of the parliamentary group also accompanies you during the visit. Indeed, our inter-parliamentary relations are also at a high level and will continue to be so. Now, if you don't mind, let's answer a few questions.
Question: Good afternoon, thank you. Mr. Minister, I would like to know if you have a positive approach regarding the negotiations under the auspices of european and american partners. We heard you are having a trilateral meeting in Washington soon, or maybe under Russian auspices, or both, I don't know if it is possible.
Ararat Mirzoyan: Thank you for the question. I will answer gladly. In fact, in the past we have already had the opportunity to address this issue several times, to present the position of the Armenian side, I should reiterate it: we don’t differentiate between the platforms, the peace process is one and the negotiations are, in fact, proceeding on the same draft peace agreement, on its foundations. We are grateful to all the capitals that provide a platform and try to play a bridging role in this process, but at least for Armenia the question is not set that way: to negotiate in Moscow, Washington or Brussels. Again, the negotiations are essentially one and the same.
Question: Mr. Mirzoyan, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan yesterday announced that the Azerbaijani side proposed to introduce a transparent control regime on the Lachin road, Armenia refused the proposal of parallel control and Azerbaijan started to control the corridor alone. Was such a proposal made to Yerevan and, if not, why are they making such a statement at such a high level? Thank you.
Ararat Mirzoyan: There were negotiations regarding Lachin, and an agreement was reached. That agreement, the regulation is well-known, you can all find it in the press, on the internet, elsewhere. That agreement is reflected in the Trilateral Statement of November 9, 2020. Armenia has never been and is not going to be involved in the negotiations on a new settlement regarding the regime of the Lachine corridor. Moreover, we believe that all the agreements reached, and I mean not only the agreement on the Lachine corridor, should be implemented consistently, without delay so that it is possible to have more serious achievements in the process of general settlement of Armenia-Azerbaijan relations. I repeat the point I have already made: what Azerbaijan has done and continues to do in Lachin is absolutely illegal and this is also confirmed by the interim decision passed by the International Court of Justice and should be eliminated as soon as possible. Everything else that concerns and may concern the rights and security of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh can be discussed, settled in the Stepanakert-Baku internationally visible, transparent mechanism, format. There have been public demands or proposals, it's difficult to differentiate, from the Azerbaijani side regarding the border points in the Lachin corridor. I repeat what I said: we are not going to get involved in the discussion of those proposals.