Press statement of the Foreign Minister of Armenia Ararat Mirzoyan and answer to the question of а journalist during a joint press conference with Leo Docherty, Under Secretary of State for Europe of the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office22 May, 2023
On May 22, Foreign Minister of Armenia Ararat Mirzoyan met with Leo Docherty, Under Secretary of State for Europe of the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office.
The meeting was followed by a joint press conference. Minister Mirzoyan's statement for the media and the answer to the question of a journalist is presented below.
I am pleased to welcome you in Armenia. Your visit is a good opportunity to touch upon Armenian-British bilateral agenda and discuss our joint steps aimed at enriching it. We value the established cooperation between Armenia and the United Kingdom and hope that through joint efforts we will be able to give it a new impetus in all areas of mutual interest. The launch of the announced strategic dialogue between Armenia and the United Kingdom is important for us. We hope that this will also be reflected in our cooperation on multilateral platforms.
Together with Minister Docherty we have expressed our readiness to take practical steps towards fully realising the existing potential in economic, scientific and cultural spheres. We see a certain increase in the volume of trade turnover, and we hope to record greater positive dynamics during the next meetings.
We also emphasized the importance of widening the legal basis between Armenia and the United Kingdom, especially by the signing of the Comprehensive and Enhanced Partnership Agreement. We believe that mutual high-level visits will be an impetus in this direction as well.
Today we also discussed the ambitious reform agenda of Armenia aimed at strengthening democratic institutions and the rule of law, protecting human rights, fighting corruption and ensuring effective governance. In this context, we value the continuous support of the United Kingdom to the democratic reforms of Armenia.
I would like to especially highlight the active dialogue between our parliaments and especially parliamentary friendship groups, which are also an important platform for discussions on issues of mutual interest.
The developments of regional security and stability were also the key subject of our discussions today. I briefed my colleague on the latest developments in the normalization process of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
I mentioned that in parallel with this process, Azerbaijan continues the illegal blockade of the Lachin corridor. During today’s discussions, I stressed that the blockade of the corridor has caused serious humanitarian problems in Nagorno-Karabakh, including through obstacles to the normal functioning of the Red Cross, the only international organization with access to Nagorno-Karabakh. It is obvious that the blockade is part of Azerbaijan’s policy of ethnic cleansing in Nagorno-Karabakh.
Once again, I emphasized the importance of constructive involvement and active steps of the UN member states having a mandate for preservation of international security, including the United Kingdom, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council. In this context, I emphasized the imperative of sending an international mission to Nagorno-Karabakh and Lachin corridor, ensuring the unimpeded access of international humanitarian organizations.
We value the support of our international partners also in solving such humanitarian issues as ensuring the return from Azerbaijan of all Armenian prisoners of war.
Despite the negotiation process, Azerbaijan also continues the occupation of the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia and provocative actions, which contradict the statements made as a result of the Prague and Sochi meetings. In this context, let me remind you that the Alma-Ata declaration plays a fundamental role, to which the Armenian side remains faithful.
I reaffirmed to my counterpart that the Republic of Armenia is ready to implement the opening and reoperation of transport communications provided for in provision 9 of the Trilateral statement of November 9, 2020 and the Trilateral statement of January 11 based on the principles of sovereignty, jurisdiction, equality and reciprocity of the parties.
In conclusion, I would like to emphasize that for a comprehensive and lasting settlement in the region, the commitment to solve all existing problems without the use of force or the threat of use of force, the implementation of the delimitation process based on mutual recognition of territorial integrity, the imperative of urgent solution of humanitarian problems, as well as addressing the rights and security issues of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh under the mechanism of internationally guaranteed dialogue is key.
Once again, I want to thank you for today’s disscussions and pass the floor to you”.
Question (Radio Liberty): Thank you. Mr. Mirzoyan, You were in Moscow last week, where you held talks with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan and Russia. How will you summarize, assess those negotiations? And after the talks, in particular, Mr. Lavrov said that there is progress, especially on the issue of unblocking communications. Please explain what that means. Does it refer to roads or railways? What can be expected on this matter? Thank you.
Ararat Mirzoyan: Very well, thank you for your question. First of all, I would like to emphasize once again Armenia’s commitment and determination to build a lasting, stable and dignified peace in the South Caucasus. For our part, we are very constructively involved in the negotiations with this kind of vision of peace. Of course, it is clear that Armenia can not take constructive steps alone, these steps must be reciprocal, and in case of reciprocity they can indeed be the basis of lasting peace. As for the question, with your permission,I would make a small correction there. I would evaluate or summarize not only the negotiations in Moscow, but also all the recent meetings. You know there was a round of very intensive meetings, starting with the four-day negotiations in Washington with the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan and his delegation, then the meetings held at the level of heads of state in Brussels and then in Moscow. I would like to say that in Washington, in particular, some progress was made in the sense that it was possible to agree on two more provisions of the draft peace treaty, and it was possible to have really direct, long and sincere conversation about several other provisions. And at least I can say that during the conversation, the parties understand each other’s concerns much better as well as each other’s intentions and ideas in general. I say this to show that in addition to the two provisions I mentioned, I think on several more provisions, and I hope it is not only my assessment, at least I was assured by the other parties as well, there is a possibility to reach an agreement. Of course, there are provisions and there are topics where the positions of the parties are still quite far from each other, and these are understandably the provisions that are related to the most difficult issues, but there was also quite an effective discussion in this direction. It is fundamental for Armenia, as I think I myself have said publicly, to have certainty and define the border delimitation process.
You also mentioned the issue of unblocking of infrastructures. Indeed, according to many opinions, this is the issue where the parties are closest to a final settlement. My position, our position has not changed. Just a few minutes ago, I again, by and large, voiced this position. We are ready, and moreover, we are interested in unblocking communications in the region, and we imagine, of course, that this unblocking should take place on the principles of sovereignty, legitimacy, equality and reciprocity of the parties. I want to emphasize once again that we are interested in unblocking these communications, and we ourselves believe that steps should be taken to ensure that these supposedly unblocked infrastructures have not only bilateral, but also international attractiveness. You know that nowadays the world is revising, restarting or approving various communication projects, and Armenia is interested in being a part of such projects. There are other issues where, in fact, discussions continue across the whole spectrum. By and large, I presented what we have reached in certain directions. Thank you.