YEREVAN (ARMENPRESS)— Armenian Minister of Foreign Affairs Edward Nalbandian briefed the press on the results of an OSCE Ministerial Council meeting, which took place in Belgrade on Thursday.
During a meeting with Armenian media, Nalbandian answered questions on the results of the meeting and his assessment of the OSCE Minsk Group’s efforts, and Azerbaijan’s lack of political will for a negotiated peaceful settlement of the Artsakh conflict.
Mr. Minister, will you brief us on the results of your meetings yesterday with the Co-Chairs? And also could you comment on the statement issued by the Foreign Ministers of the Co-Chair states on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict?
Both the meetings and the statement are of the same logic. Now, after the statement, I can refer to it, around which the meetings were held.
What are the Co-Chairs speaking about? They are saying that there is no alternative to peaceful and negotiated conflict settlement. They refer to it several times in the statement and call on the sides to reconfirm their commitment to reach the settlement through peaceful negotiations.
The Co-Chairs have done it repeatedly. If you can remember, not only the Foreign Ministers of the Co-Chair states, but also the Presidents made such a call in their Enniskillen statement, minutes after Armenia reconfirmed its commitment. We did not hear Azerbaijan’s position. And therefore, the call is directed to Azerbaijan.
The mediators say that the sides must dispel the impression that they do not take the negotiation process as a means for conflict settlement seriously. It is clear who that call is addressed to. And, who threatens to use force? Who threatens to unleash war? Armenia? Never! You represent media and you know that it is not true. The opposite side does it.
The Co-Chairs also call on the sides to give their consent over the creation of a mechanism investigating ceasefire violations. You know that after the last meeting of the Foreign Ministers in New York we reconfirmed that we agreed to create that mechanism. But Azerbaijan, in fact, refused. And it was mentioned in the press release issued by the Co-Chairs that they call on Azerbaijan to agree too it and that Armenia had agreed.
The Co-chairs strictly condemn the use of heavy artillery in their statement. Who uses heavy artillery? Is not it clear that the Azerbaijani side started to use heavy artillery recently? This means that they condemn Azerbaijan for using heavy artillery.
And at last, the Co-chairs once again express dissatisfaction over the severe criticism addressed towards the Co-chairs. Who does this? Has Armenia ever criticized?
I mentioned also in my speech at yesterday’s plenary session that Armenia has never criticized the Co-Chairs. The Co-Chairs also say that the attempts to make the Co-Chairs responsible for non-progress in the negotiation process are an attempt to conceal the absence of political will. Whose political will? Azerbaijan’s.
So everything is clear. I think that the Co-Chairs have made correct assessments. The question is to what extent Azerbaijan will pay attention to those assessments and to what extent Azerbaijan will adequately realize the calls of the international community.
Because the OSCE Minsk Group format is the only format that has an international mandate, and it was also mentioned in yesterday’s statement. It has been given by all the OSCE member states and also, as they say, enjoys the confidence of the sides. If one of the sides repeatedly criticizes, does it mean that they support the format? Of course not.
We hope that this statement by the heads of the delegations of the Co-Chair states will have its importance in terms of moving forward with the negotiation process.
It was also announced yesterday that a high-level meeting, meaning at the presidential level, is planned which will take place soon in December.
The time and the place of the meeting have not officially been announced yet. It will be done as required according to the consent of the sides.
According to Armenpress, journalists also asked questions about the developments that took place after the statement was issued, specifically the announcement by Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in Baku, saying that every centimeter of Azerbaijan’s “occupied territories” must be liberated and that Turkey will stand side by side with Azerbaijan. Later this morning, Azerbaijan violated the ceasfire repeatedly in an attempted advance across the line of contact, resulting in the loss of one Armenian soldier.
Nalbandian told media representatives not to be surprised by Turkey’s announcements, as they are not something new.
Nalbandian also said that during his meetings with the Co-Chairs, he told them that Azerbaijan softens tensions before OSCE Ministerial Council meetings, as they have always done. But, when a statement is issued, like the most recent one following an OSCE Ministerial meeting in Belgrade on Thursday, it is immediately followed by escalation of tensions, and this morning’s violations is proof of that.
According to Nalbandian, this is Baku’s answer to the Co-Chairs’ call for refrain from the use of force.