Statement by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia  during a joint press conference with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium 

22 August, 2023

On August 22, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia Ararat Mirzoyan met with Hadja Lahbib, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of Belgium who arrived to Armenia on an official visit.

The meeting was followed by the press conference of the foreign ministers of the two countries. Below is the press statement of Minister Mirzoyan and answers to the questions of journalists.

Madam Minister, dear colleague, dear Hadja,

It is a great pleasure to host you and your delegation in Yerevan. This is your first visit to Armenia, and I am confident that it will give a new impetus to strengthening of friendly ties between the two countries and outlining new projects. Of course, even before the visit, our discussions were quite active. 

Today's visit is a good opportunity to continue our discussions on the bilateral agenda and also on the broader regional and international issues of mutual interest. I would like to emphasise your timely visit in the current period which is full of challenges.

Dear attendees,

During the consultations, together with my counterpart, we commended the high level of the Armenia-Belgium political dialogue, touched upon the prospects of expanding bilateral partnership, expressed readiness to take practical steps, particularly in areas of the economy, science, education, information technology and culture, to fully realize the existing potential, and to promote possible investments. We expressed confidence that the cooperation based on the advancement of economic development in the region, democratic values, as well as civilizational commonalities between the two peoples will have a positive result.

Also, in this context, we greatly welcome the decision of the Belgian government to open an embassy in Yerevan. It will undoubtedly give a new impetus to the dynamic development of Armenian-Belgian relations. Taking this opportunity, Madam Minister, I would like to thank you for your personal efforts in this direction.

Of course, I would like to use this opportunity on behalf of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and our society to once again  express our gratitude for the support provided by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Belgium to the "Homeland Defender's Rehabilitation Center" of Yerevan. We hope to continue cooperation in this direction as well.

During our meeting, we also highlighted the effective inter-parliamentary cooperation between Armenia and Belgium, particularly considering the significant attention of the Belgian legislative body and solidarity in matters of great importance to us.

Dear attendees, 

During today's meeting, we also touched upon effective cooperation within the framework of international organizations. We discussed our collaboration within the framework of the Armenia-EU partnership. And here also, of course, the range of directions and interests of cooperation is wide spanning from support for democratic reforms in Armenia to economic development, dialogue on security issues and activities of the EU civilian monitoring mission in Armenia. And regarding the latter, I would like to stress the importance and express satisfaction to the Belgian government for its direct participation in the mission.

Dear Colleagues, 

At the core of our today's discussion was, of course, the escalating humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh resulting from Azerbaijan's ongoing 8-month-long illegal blockade of the Lachin corridor. Both during the previous discussions and today's meeting, we discussed in detail the extremely negative, irreversible consequences of the situation in Nagorno-Karabakh.

We touched upon the emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, the targeted appeals voiced during this particular meeting as well as since the beginning of Azerbaijan’s blockade of the Lachin corridor in December 2022. Calls made by  international partners, organisations, EU members, including Belgium, are extremely important for us. At the same time, despite all this, and contrary to the Orders of the International Court of Justice of February 22 and July 6, Azerbaijan continues the blockade of the Lachin corridor.

Of course, this is not a separate manifestation from all other developments: we have been continuously warning that Azerbaijan's actions are based on its policy of ethnic cleansing in Nagorno-Karabakh which has been manifested openly. 

In the discussions with my counterpart, I also emphasised that recently Azerbaijan periodically violates the ceasefire in Nagorno-Karabakh, and also targets the Armenian positions on the state border between Armenia and Azerbaijan. As we know, it was also reported by the EU monitoring mission in Armenia.

We have repeatedly stated that Azerbaijan continuously violates nearly all provisions of the statement of November 9, 2020. The implementation of humanitarian obligations such as the return of Armenian prisoners of war and captured civilians, as well as the clarification of the fate of those considered missing, was no exception. Today, Azerbaijan actually holds the entire 120.000 population of Nagorno-Karabakh hostage.

We believe that with such actions, Azerbaijan is challenging the efforts of the international community, and first of all, those of Armenia, aimed at establishing real stability and peace in the region. We expect that our international partners will demonstrate political will to take active steps to change Azerbaijan's destructive, inhumane and warmongering pattern of behaviour.

I want to once again reaffirm the position, goal, and desire of the Government of the Republic of Armenia to achieve the establishment of lasting peace in our region through negotiations.

Madam Minister,

Once again, I thank you for the visit and fruitful discussions. The floor is yours. 

Question (Belgian journalist, RTBF): Mr. Minister, in your opinion, which mediation would be more effective: efforts of Russia, the United States or Charles Michel, and is the European mediation credible, considering that Europe is multiplying gas purchases from Azerbaijan?

Ararat Mirzoyan: Thank you for the question. In fact, Armenia is interested in any unbiased, objective, neutral mediation, and we highly appreciate all the efforts that are made for these purposes and based on these motives. Numerous important meetings were held through the mediation of President Michel, and I met with my Azerbaijani counterpart several times in Washington with the mediation of the American side - the State Department and Secretary Blinken. We also hold meetings in Moscow and other places - both at the level of heads of state and at ministerial level. Just recently, I participated in such meetings, negotiations both in Washington and in Moscow. 

It is important for us that on agreements reached at any platforms be implemented. Unfortunately, several times we have witnessed a situation when an agreement was reached during the meeting, but in reality, on the ground, we did not see its implementation. For instance, until now Azerbaijan’s leadership hasn't voiced a public statement regarding the recognition of the territorial integrity of the Republic of Armenia, while we have heard such statements during closed meetings. This is very worrying for us and may indicate that Azerbaijan has territorial ambitions from the Republic of Armenia. Secondly, not only the agreements are not being implemented, but also we witness the exact opposite process. In particular, while we are saying that addressing the rights and security of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh should be part of the settlement, and without it it is unrealistic to expect a lasting and stable peace in the South Caucasus, in reality, with the illegal blockade of the Lachin corridor, we see a siege of the entire region, entire population, incitement to starvation, deprivation of necessary medicines, including children, pregnant women, people with disabilities, people in need of immediate medical care. 

Returning to your question, we do not differentiate between platforms, but rather methods, and we emphasise the implementation of agreements and constructive negotiations, conducted in good faith. We expect from our international partners, all platforms and all mediators to ensure that the agreements reached through their mediation are implemented.

Thank you.

Question: Shoghik Galstyan (Factor TV). Mr. Minister, there were reports in the media regarding the discussion of the UN Security Council stating that the United States is obstructing the adoption of a resolution. I would like to ask your comment on this, and during the discussions in the UN Security Council, a number of countries, including the United States and Russia, besides the opening of the Lachin corridor, voiced about the launch of parallel routes, in fact, having in mind the Aghdam road. Considering the situation in Artsakh, is this an acceptable option for the Armenian side? Thank you.

Ararat Mirzoyan. Continuing from where Madam Minister left off, I want to say that Armenia has always welcomed and itself proposed a mission of a neutral commission to Nagorno-Karabakh in order to provide a neutral, independent and impartial opinion for the international community, but also to make new efforts to establish peace and a just peace, lasting peace and stability. 

In response to your question, I must say that gladly, the emergency meeting of the UN Security Council, held at the request of Armenia, was public, and not only the Armenian people, but also everyone in the world had the opportunity to hear positions of all member states, as well as those of the invitees who also  participated in the meeting. You were asking about the United States. In response, I will say that the world sees Azerbaijan’s policy of ethnic cleansing against the people of Nagorno-Karabakh which will be difficult to describe otherwise than an ethnic cleansing. You say the United States is obstructing the process of adopting a Security Council resolution, I don't think the United States is in any way going to or willing to be a part of or contribute to that policy of ethnic cleansing, it would be a little hard for me to imagine. I think and I hope that the United States has a very good understanding of the scale and scope of the escalating humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh and also realises that a possible UN Security Council resolution would help resolve this situation, settle it, end the humanitarian crisis and bring the parties back together to the agenda of negotiations.

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