The remarks and answers to the questions of the journalists of Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia Ararat Mirzoyan during the joint press conference with Foreign Minister of Russia Sergey Lavrov

31 August, 2021

Dear Sergey Lavrov,
Dear Colleagues,
Ladies and gentlemen,

First of all, I would like to thank Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation Sergey Lavrov for the warm reception and the meaningful discussion that we had a while ago.

Undoubtedly, the exceptional relations between Armenia and Russia have predetermined both the geography of my first visit abroad and the environment of today's talks, the results of which, I am sure, are within the framework of the efforts aimed at strengthening the allied relations of our countries.

The main issues of bilateral cooperation were discussed in an open and trusting environment, which also provided a wide scope for foreign policy coordination on multilateral platforms.

We have touched upon a wide range of international and regional issues, first of all, of course the issue of security and peace in our region.

Certainly, we have paid due attention to the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, outlining the areas around which joint efforts should be intensified.

The primary emphasis was placed on the situation resulting from the statement signed by the leaders of Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan on November 9, 2020, as well as the discussion of issues concerning the resumption of the peace process under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship.

Russia has played a key role in stopping the Azerbaijani aggression unleashed against the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. The deployment of Russian peacekeepers in Artsakh as a factor in preventing provocations by Baku and a factor that ensures the security of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, creates preconditions for the restoration of normal life. In this regard, I would like to express my gratitude for the consistent efforts of the Russian Federation and President Vladimir Putin.

We highly appreciate the efforts of the Russian Federation towards the implementation of the agreements, including the issue of the return of prisoners of war which is of the utmost urgency. Thanks to these efforts, it became possible for some of the Armenian prisoners of war and captured civilians to return to their homeland. At the same time, 10 months later, in violation of international humanitarian law, Azerbaijan violates both the implementation of these and other provisions of the statement, while continuously replicating their arbitrary interpretation. And all these point out the degree of Baku's ability to respect the agreements, which continues to resort to obvious provocations, seriously undermining the already precarious situation in the region.

The infiltration of the units of the Azerbaijani armed forces into the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia since May 12, 2021 is unacceptable and constitutes a blatant violation of international law.

Maintaining peace and stability in the region is our long-term strategy, and we are willing to hold active negotiations around that agenda. However, Azerbaijan’s failure to implement its commitments assumed by the November 9 trilateral statement, as well as the groundless territorial claims against Armenia, the continuous aggressive rhetoric of the Azerbaijani authorities do not contribute to a lasting and sustainable peace in the region.

Today, I once again stated the fact that Armenia's position matches with the position of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, according to which the issue of the political settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict remains open. We presume that the settlement of the issue, which will establish peace and stability in the South Caucasus, can be achieved only through negotiations. And such a solution should be based, first of all, on the issues of the status and territories of Nagorno-Karabakh.

During the exchange of views regarding the involvement of relevant international organizations in the reconstruction of the region, I stated that humanitarian access to Artsakh should not be politicized. It is about the protection of human rights. The protection of a number of cultural, including Armenian religious monuments under the control of the Azerbaijani armed forces is extremely urgent.

Touching upon the unblocking of economic and transport ties in the region, it was noted that the opening of communication links can change the image of the region, diversify the logistical connection between Armenia and Russia. The trilateral statement of January 11 clearly outlines the framework of that process. And here also, a free interpretation of the provisions is also unacceptable for us.

In the context of foreign policy coordination, we discussed the cooperation within the UN, OSCE, EAEU, CIS and CSTO, where Armenia will soon assume the presidency, which will be aimed at increasing the potential of the organization for the benefit of collective security and balanced development.

In conclusion, I would like to thank Sergey Lavrov once again for the warm welcome and constructive dialogue. We are waiting for You in Yerevan at any time convenient for You.

Question: Are there any meetings in any format or a joint meeting planned between the Armenian and Azerbaijani sides ?

To date, Azerbaijan has not complied with Article 8 of the November 9 statement, which called for the exchange of prisoners of war, captured civilians and others detained on a "all-for-all" basis. In fact, the Azerbaijani side is hindering the implementation of agreements on such an important issue, which could have contributed to the creation of certain preconditions for the discussion of other issues. After all, how do you imagine the solution of this urgent humanitarian issue, which has caused suffering to many Armenian families?

Ararat Mirzoyan: Armenia has long fulfilled its obligations on this issue․ The Armenian side released and returned to Azerbaijan all the prisoners of war of Azerbaijan on the principle of "all for all". We believe, as Minister Lavrov has already said, that Azerbaijan should return all Armenian prisoners of war and other captured civilians, not only for the implementation of the provisions assumed by the November 9 statement, but also to create an environment of mutual trust for further discussions on the final settlement of all issues. As for the previous question, Armenia has repeatedly expressed readiness, we see the settlement only through peaceful negotiations, so we are ready for a meeting.

Question: The Taliban declared its final victory in Afghanistan after the departure of the last American soldier. As CSTO members, what is the common position of Russia and Armenia on the Afghan issue?

Ararat Mirzoyan: Certainly, we are following the events in Afghanistan. It is safe to say that we are committed to peace in the region. We will welcome and in principle, respect the decision of the people of Afghanistan on their future. As for Armenia, as a CSTO member state, we would like to make sure that there is peace and stability in all regions along the CSTO area of ​​responsibility, including in the region where Afghanistan is located. Therefore, we will also make efforts within the framework of the September summit to work out a common position on this issue.

Question: Can you express your opinion on Azerbaijan's position that the peace treaty between Armenia and Azerbaijan should include Yerevan's recognition of Azerbaijan's territorial integrity?

Ararat Mirzoyan: Answering the second question about the supposed peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan, in place of the Azerbaijani authorities, I would have focused on the implementation of the agreements already reached within the framework of the November 9 and January 11 trilateral statements. No peace agreement is being negotiated at this stage. If such negotiations ever start, they must definitely include the issue of the Nagorno-Karabakh status based on the principles already set by the Minsk Group Co-Chairs.

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