Nalbandian Slams Azeri Policy at OSCE Congress

Armenia's Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian speaks to an audience of foreign ministers from OSCE member countries at the OSCE's Ministerial Council


‘Rule of Law, Not Rule of Oil,’ Should Guide Artsakh Peace, Says Nalbandian

BASEL, Switzerland—The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia Edward Nalbandian delivered a speech at the 21st Meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Ministerial Council on Thursday in Basel, Switzerland. In his speech, Nalbandian harshly criticized Azerbaijan’s violent policy and its uncooperative behavior in the Artsakh conflict. Nalbandian also briefly mentioned the Armenian Genocide and its approaching centennial anniversary.

“The first Genocide of the 20th century, the centennial of which will be commemorated next year, was perpetrated in the Ottoman Empire against the Armenian nation, under the cover of the First World War. It stands as a witness to what extent humanity can degrade in the absence of international system of protection of human rights and security,” Nalbandian said.

The Foreign Minister continued by noting that, from the tragedies of the 20th century, international principles were conceived to make the world safer, which includes the right of peoples to self-determination. Nalbandian said that international laws like the UN Charter and the Helsinki Final Act empower people to promote and protect their rights and to freely pursue their own future.

The effectiveness of our Organization to a great extent depends on the ability to timely and effectively assess and diligently address evolving challenges in all three dimensions.

Nalbandian noted that this year marks the 20th anniversary of the cease-fire agreement reached by Nagorno-Karabakh, Azerbaijan and Armenia. “Azerbaijan did everything to undermine the ceasefire regime, despite the calls of the international community to reinforce the cease-fire agreement of May 1994 and fully implement cease-fire consolidation agreement of February 1995,” Nalbandian told the audience. “Military actions of the Azerbaijani side along the line of contact and on the Armenia-Azerbaijani border resulted in a significant loss of lives and drastically raised tensions on the ground.”

Nalbandian explained that the deadlock in peace negotiations, mediated by the OSCE, is due entirely to Baku’s unwillingness to accept any measure that would be conducive to peace.

“Despite the intensive efforts of the three Co-Chair countries during the last 6 years: about 20 summits, several dozens of meetings on ministerial level, visits of the three Co-Chairs to the region, it has been impossible to reach a breakthrough in the conflict resolution, because the Azerbaijani side rejected one after another all proposals presented by the mediators,” the Foreign Minister said.

“In Armenia we continue to believe that the elements outlined in the 5 statements of the heads of the Co-Chair countries on Nagorno-Karabakh can be the basis for reaching a fair and lasting settlement of the conflict,” Nalbandian said. “We share the position of the Co-Chair countries, that those elements should be seen as an integrated whole and that any attempt to select some elements over others would make it impossible to achieve a balanced solution.”

Baku rejected all versions of the Basic Principles of the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict proposed by the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, including the latest versions presented at the Kazan (June 2011), Sochi (March 2011), Astrakhan (October 2011) and Saint Petersburg (June 2010) summits.

“Baku rejected not only the Basic Principles, but also confidence-building measures proposed by the Co-Chairs on consolidation of ceasefire and the establishment of a mechanism for investigation of the ceasefire violations,” Nalbandian said.

“An Armenian villager who had mistakenly wandered into the territory of Azerbaijan was arrested, humiliated in front of cameras, a tactic used by notorious terrorist organizations, and was found dead the following day,” he reminded.

“The more the international community, through the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs appeals to the sides of the conflict to prepare populations for peace and not war, the more we hear from Azerbaijan, including in the top level, increasing bellicose warmongering, anti-Armenian hate-speech, glorification of murderers of Armenians and persecution of those journalists, civil society activists, representatives of intelligentsia, who pursue confidence building and reconciliation projects, presenting them as ‘Armenian spies.’” The Foreign Minister explained. “The more the international community is calling on the sides to withdraw snipers from the line of contact, the more sniper shootings, provocative incidents, and subversive acts are coming from the Azerbaijani side, resulting in numerous casualties.”

Nalbandian also raised concerns over Azerbaijan’s titanic war budget, which spent nearly five billion dollars on arms last year and is projected to increase next year. Nalbandian said such aggressive and disproportionate arms acquisitions are a threat to the stability of the region.

“Such a militaristic posture is fuelled up by anti-Armenian propaganda and xenophobia. Year after year Armenia has been raising its concerns from this podium over the militaristic rhetoric, blatant violation of international commitments and anti-Armenian hysteria and hatred being injected into Azerbaijani society from the highest levels of its leadership,” Nalbandian said.

The European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI) in its report on Azerbaijan noted with deep concern the “constant and negative official and media discourse concerning the Republic of Armenia” and recommended the Azerbaijani authorities to “adopt an appropriate response to all cases of discrimination and hate speech against Armenians.”

“What is the Azerbaijani response?” Nalbandian asked. “Baku is trying to impose its own distorted perception of human rights on others, organizes fake conferences on tolerance and freedoms.”

The responsive nature of OSCE entails proper assessment and adequate reaction to this behavior, Nalbandian stressed.

“It is clear that international community should not tolerate the attempts of the Azerbaijani leadership to adjust the international law to their own racist ideology,” he said. “Having a rich internal experience in corruption Baku is attempting to transfer it to interstate relations exploiting it as a tool to impose its own misperceptions on others. The international community could not tolerate the attempts of Azerbaijan to replace the rule of law with the rule of oil.”

The Armenian Foreign Minister then brought up the recent downing of an unarmed Artsakh Army helicopter by Azeri forces, which killed three servicemen, after covering a long list of recent violations by Azerbaijan.

“The recent shooting down by the Azerbaijani armed forces of the helicopter of the Nagorno-Karabakh Defense Army during a training flight, which took the lives of three young servicemen, is Baku’s latest criminal provocation,” Nalbandian said. “The Azerbaijani army for almost ten days continuously kept the area of the helicopter shooting under intensive fire, hindering rescue teams, the OSCE, International Committee of the Red Cross representatives to approach that site and evacuate the bodies of killed crew members, which became another gross violation of international humanitarian law by Azerbaijan. Baku continues to oppose itself to the international community, which was once again demonstrated by its reaction to the statement of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs on the helicopter shooting. Azerbaijan is clearly losing the sense of reality and day by day is deepening the gap between itself and the civilized world.”

“To achieve a durable peace, stability and security in the region, Armenia will continue to invest its utmost efforts towards the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict exclusively through peaceful means and on the basis of the purposes, principles and norms reflected in the UN Charter, Helsinki Final Act and the provisions of the statements of the Minsk Group Co-Chair Countries’ Presidents in L’Aquila, Muskoka, Deauville, Los Cabos and Enniskillen,” Nalbandian said in concluding his speech, adding that Armenia welcomes the incoming Serbian chairmanship of the OSCE.

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