The report of the MFA of Armenia on the implementation process and the results of the Program of the Government of Armenia for 2020 at the session of the Standing Committee on Foreign Relations of the NA29 March, 2021
Distinguished members of the Standing Committee on Foreign Relations,
Today I will make a brief report on the implementation of the government program in 2020. The activities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia during the year were aimed at ensuring the continuity of the implementation of Armenia’s foreign policy guidelines and the Program of the government, as well as further promotion of the reforms and development agenda.
Nevertheless, the year was probably the worst since Armenia's independence, due to well-known global and regional events. On the one hand, COVID-19, on the other hand, the Azerbaijani-Turkish aggression created new serious challenges for all our state bodies, particularly for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, thus the process of overcoming those consequences significantly shaped the agenda of our work.
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in cooperation with international partners and through the efforts of the Embassies, undertook operative measures to support our compatriots abroad, to organize their safe repatriation; as a result of which 14,564 citizens of the Republic of Armenia returned to the country, organizing the free transportation for 2254 citizens. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, through the active efforts of the Embassies, organized the provision of humanitarian assistance to Armenia by a number of countries and institutions within the framework of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The key priority of Armenia's foreign policy remained the ensuring the security of Armenia and Artsakh, and by September 27, 2020, within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship, Armenia has made efforts for the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
On January 29-30 the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan mediated by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs was held in Geneva. As a result of the meeting, a joint statement was adopted, in which it was mentioned that the sides discussed the principles and the elements of the settlement, the steps to prepare the population for peace, as well as the schedule of further meetings and agendas.
The restrictions caused by the pandemic had a negative impact on the implementation of the scheduled meetings, and communication continued online. On April 21, such a meeting resulted in adapting a joint statement in which the Co-Chairs called on the sides to strongly adhere to the call of the UN Secretary-General for a global ceasefire.
As it is known, the President of Azerbaijan publicly criticized this joint statement in the context of the resignation of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan, approving this document, thus announcing his policy of thwarting the peace process.
Azerbaijan firstly used force in the border area of Tavush region in mid-July last year, then on September 27, with the help of Turkish-sponsored foreign terrorist fighters, unleashed a large-scale aggression against the Republic of Artsakh, which thwarted the Nagorno-Karabakh peace process, disrupted regional peace, security and stability.
During the war, three ceasefire agreements were reached at the level of foreign ministers: a ceasefire mediated by the President of Russia on October 10, a humanitarian ceasefire mediated by the President of France on October 17, and a humanitarian ceasefire mediated by the US President on October 24. were immediately violated by Azerbaijan. In order to stop the aggression, Armenia went to the signing of a trilateral statement on November 9, as a result of which a ceasefire was established, and the peacekeeping forces of the Russian Federation entered Artsakh.
Extensive work has been done by the Foreign Ministry to establish the image of Azerbaijan as an provokator of aggression in the international community, to ensure the international community's position on the involvement of Turkish-sponsored terrorist fighters in hostilities, to increase diplomatic pressure on the Turkish-Azerbaijani alliance to end hostilities.
Now our region has entered a period of new challenges, which makes it even more imperative for strengthening the cooperation in the region with partners interested in peace and security. At the same time, these developments demonstrated the need for strong OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, which will be able to lead the peace process on the basis of the principles and elements elaborated over the years.
After the war, the Foreign Ministry of Armenia began to develop Armenia's approaches to the new situation, which were first comprehensively presented in early December during a meeting of the OSCE Ministerial Council. These approaches assume:
- Determination of the status of Artsakh based on the realization of the right to self-determination
- Ensuring comprehensive security of the people of Artsakh
- De-occupation of the territories of Artsakh by Azerbaijan
- Safe and dignified return of the recently displaced population to their places of residence
- Preservation of Armenian cultural and religious heritage in the territories fallen under the Azerbaijani control.
Addressing the humanitarian situation in Artsakh with the direct involvement of international partners, particularly the UN and its organizations, is one of the priorities of the Armenian side. Posing impediments by Azerbaijan in providing humanitarian assistance to Artsakh is strongly reprehensible, and the Foreign Ministry is working to alleviate humanitarian issues through cooperation with international partners. Among the humanitarian issues that require an urgent solution is the immediate and safe repatriation of the Armenian prisoners of war and captured citizens held as hostages by the Azerbaijani side.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs focuses on the protection of the Armenian historical-cultural and religious heritage in the territories fallen under the Azerbaijani control. Relevant work has been and continues to be implemented in this regard in bilateral and multilateral formats.
Among the priorities of the diplomacy of the Republic of Armenia is the international recognition and condemnation of the Armenian Genocide, and Armenia continues to be at the forefront in the agenda of the fight against the crime of genocide, the prevention of crimes against humanity. The adoption of a new resolution on genocide prevention by the UN Human Rights Council by consensus sponsored by Armenia can be considered a significant achievement in this direction.
The deepening of cooperation continued in various geographical directions, but due to the Covid-19, most of the meetings and interactions were held in online format. Most of the pre-planned visits and meetings have been temporarily postponed amid the pandemic.
The Embassy of the Republic of Armenia in Ethiopia and the Consulate General of the Republic of Armenia in Erbil have officially started operating in 2020. The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Armenia started its work in August 2020, as well as the diplomatic mission of the Kingdom of Sweden in Armenia. During the reporting period, the Government of Armenia provided one-time humanitarian assistance to the Armenian community of Syria in the amount of one hundred thousand US dollars. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also coordinated the humanitarian aid provided through various channels to the Republic of Lebanon, the Lebanese-Armenian community.
I will conclude my remarks here and will gladly continue our discussions during the Q&A session.