Remarks by Minister of Foreign Affairs Ararat Mirzoyan for the exchange of views at the Committee on Foreign Affairs (AFET) of the European Parliament

24 January, 2023

On January 24, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia Ararat Mirzoyan delivered remarks at the discussion held by Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament, where he noted:

“Dear Chairman,

First of all, thank you for accommodating our request to have an exchange of views in this format. It’s definitely not the first time that AFET is focusing its attention on Armenia. Nevertheless, I highly value this opportunity to address the AFET in person and have an open discussion.

Dear members of the European Parliament, dear colleagues,

I would like to continue with sincere words of gratitude to the European Parliament as a whole and to each of you personally, for the clear positions on issues of utmost importance to my country.

The holding of urgency debates and adoption of resolutions in the course of the past two years on the issues of the Armenian prisoners of war, the destruction of cultural heritage and most recently the humanitarian consequences of the blockade in Nagorno-Karabakh, were all adequate and objective responses to the unprecedented challenges that the people in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh are facing, challenges that also continue to threaten the stability and security in our region. All of them were perfectly summed up in the 2022 CFSP report. For that, I would like to extend special thanks to you, Mr McAllister and all MEPs who worked on this report and contributed to the inclusion of the paragraphs on Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh which objectively reflect the situation in our region.

Of course, I could not but welcome the unambiguous statements and every vote in the European Parliament cast in favour of resolving the mentioned humanitarian issues. Your strong voice was heard in Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh. I hope it was heard and heeded in Baku as well. I really hope that other European Institutions will be brave and fair enough as the European Parliament regarding the issues of the South Caucasus.

The strong and clear messages from the European Union, including its legislative body, are truly important: firstly, the EU remains Armenia’s primary partner in promoting the institution-building and supporting our reform agenda based on our shared values, and secondly, despite all the challenges, we continue to expand the scope of our partnership based on the EU's commitment to contribute to the stability in our region.

We do believe that our security architecture cannot be comprehensive without respect for human rights and democracy. We’ve been undertaking reforms aimed at strengthening human rights and rule of law, consolidating good governance and fighting against corruption, aiming to ensure prosperity for our people. I have many things to say about Armenia’s achievements in democratic reforms however today I won’t go into details due to time constraints. I can reassure you that we are committed to continuing the path of democratic reforms and hope for further support from our partners.

With regard to the EU’s valuable contribution to the stability of our region, I would like to applaud Foreign Affairs Council for yesterday’s decision to deploy a long-term Monitoring mission to Armenia. I would like to highlight that this mission is about human security - people living in the bordering regions, children going to schools, farmers carrying out their agricultural duties, and families that want to live in their houses without fear of being targeted. Concrete people, concrete schools, concrete houses.

Dear colleagues,

For the last two years, the Armenian government, receiving the vote of our citizens to pursue peace agenda and having the political will to normalize relations with Azerbaijan, has been engaged in good faith in talks on three separate tracks: first, the opening of all transport communications in the region, second, delimitation and border security, and the third, the agreement on normalization of relations or peace agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Without overloading you with all the details, I would like to bring to your attention a few points.

Right after the establishment of a working group on the opening of communications, Azerbaijan, self-interpreting the text of the Trilateral Statement of November 9th 2020, started to demand an extraterritorial corridor. I want to state that Armenia is ready to open all communications at the very moment when Azerbaijan will accept that the roads should be operating under the sovereignty and jurisdiction of the states they are passing through.

Months after the establishment of Commissions on the delimitation of borders, Azerbaijan not only raised new territorial claims but also tried to justify its last aggression with a fake argument that the border is not delimited. Ironically, these Commissions were established after the first Azerbaijani invasion into the sovereign territory of Armenia in May 2021, aiming also to prevent any further hostilities.

Third, we started to negotiate the text of a peace treaty between the Republic of Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan. Regrettably, the vast majority of fundamental suggestions on the peace treaty proposed by the Armenian side have been rejected by Azerbaijan.

Among the suggestions are clarification of parameters for the delimitation of the state border, as we think that without clearly agreed parameters on the delimitation of the international borders between Armenia and Azerbaijan, real peace is impossible. Next is the distancing of forces from the state border and the creation of a demilitarized zone for preventing any possible future escalation as well as confidence-building measures and security mechanism, Institute of Guarantor(s) of the Peace treaty, which will ensure the implementation of the obligations.

In a nutshell, Azerbaijan expects Armenia to only accept all its demands, and when not getting it, Azerbaijan uses all possible instruments of pressure: from keeping Armenian POWs as hostages to the state-sponsored spread of hate speech against Armenians, from warmongering rhetoric to concrete use of force.

We accepted Azerbaijan’s suggestion to discuss the normalisation of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan and the Nagorno-Karabakh issue in parallel, separate tracks. In contrast, Azerbaijan started to claim that Nagorno-Karabakh is their internal issue, opposing Armenia’s concrete suggestion to create an international mechanism of talks between Baku and Stepanakert.

It is also clear that so far Azerbaijan’s actions, including the blockade of the Lachin corridor, once again have proven the absolute necessity of international engagement to address the issues of rights and security of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Dear colleagues,

At this very moment, the people of Nagorno-Karabakh remain under inhumane siege because of the blockade of the Lachin corridor - the lifeline, the only road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh with Armenia. Having had the urgency debate and adopted the resolution on the “Humanitarian consequences of the blockade in Nagorno-Karabakh” last week, you are well aware of the situation.

There is one aspect that I would like to emphasize: it is not an isolated episode but must be seen as part of a widespread and systematic policy of Azerbaijan aimed at the ethnic cleansing of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh. By creating unbearable living conditions, Azerbaijan aims to coerce the people of Nagorno-Karabakh to leave their homes and native land. The recent statement of the President of Azerbaijan suggesting the deportation of those Armenians who do not want to become citizens of Azerbaijan comes to prove once again their intention of ethnic cleansing.

As the humanitarian crisis in Nagorno-Karabakh is worsening with each passing day, the immediate intervention of the international community is required. As indicated in the EP urgency resolution last week, it is imperative to send an international fact-finding mission to Nagorno-Karabakh and the Lachin Corridor to assess the humanitarian situation on the ground, as well as to ensure unhindered humanitarian access to Nagorno-Karabakh for relevant UN bodies.

We cannot stand by and watch how people are slowly starving to death, because of political games and perhaps geopolitical considerations. Let me put it straight: there are two theoretical options for lifting the blockade of the Lachin corridor: military or diplomatic. Armenia adheres to the second option, but that’s possible only with a decisive intervention and strong pressure on Azerbaijan and tangible actions towards that end by the international community. The time to act is now. Azerbaijan should face consequences for its actions. It should be explained to Azerbaijan that there are certain international rules to which everybody has to abide”.

Following the remarks, Minister of Foreign Affairs Ararat Mirzoyan answered the questions of the members of the European Parliament.

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