Nalbandian Says Vienna Talks Can Pave Way for Peace

126th Session of the Committee of the Ministers of the Council of Europe in Sofia, Bulgaria
126th Session of the Committee of the Ministers of the Council of Europe in Sofia, Bulgaria

126th Session of the Committee of the Ministers of the Council of Europe in Sofia, Bulgaria

SOFIA—Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian attended the 126th Session of the Committee of the Ministers of the Council of Europe Ministers in Sofia, Bulgaria on Wednesday, May 18. The meeting was attended by Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Thorbjörn Jagland, the President of Bulgaria Rosen Plevneliev, and Foreign Ministers of the Council’s member states.

During the meeting, Nalbandian presented a statement regarding Armenia’s democratic security, Nagorno-Karabakh, and the importance of upholding common values and individual rights at a pan-European level. Read his statement below:

Excellences,

Secretary General,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to congratulate Bulgaria on its productive chairmanship at the Committee of Ministers and to thank Minister Mitov for the excellent organization of this meeting.

I would also like to express our appreciation to the Secretary General for presenting his third annual report on the “State of Democracy, Human Rights and the Rule of Law in Europe.” We share Mr. Jagland’s view on the concept of “Democratic Security,” according to which the democracies are less likely to go to war. Obviously, authoritarian regimes do not face such a dilemma.

Such a case was most recently witnessed in early April when Azerbaijan launched large-scale military offensive against Nagorno-Karabakh, resulting in many killed and wounded, along with gross violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law.

The tense situation of early April and possibilities of addressing its consequences were discussed two days ago in Vienna in a meeting of the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan attended by the Secretary of State of the United States, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia and State Secretary for European Affairs of France representing the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries.

In their joint statement the Co-Chair countries insisted on the importance of respecting the 1994 and 1995 ceasefire agreements. The Presidents reiterated their commitment to the ceasefire and the peaceful settlement of the conflict. To reduce the risk of further violence, they agreed to finalize in the shortest possible time an OSCE investigative mechanism. The Presidents also agreed to the expansion of the existing Office of the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman in Office. This could pave a way for resumption of the negotiations for the resolution of the conflict.

Up until now Azerbaijan has been continuously hindering the implementation of such proposals of the Co-chair countries and even reached agreements. We hope that this time Azerbaijan would not deceive the hopes of the Co-Chair countries and the expectations of the international community.

Dear colleagues,

It is the primary goal of Council of Europe to safeguard common values and individual rights at pan-European level. We share the belief of many in this room that rights of individuals guaranteed by the European Convention on Human Rights must not be dependent on the status of the territory where peoples live. In this regard, we appreciate recent initiatives to discuss the subject of ensuring human rights in conflict zones.

Today violent extremism and radicalization leading to terrorism are direct threats to our values. To succeed in the fight against these appalling phenomena we should start with the root causes. Fight against racism, xenophobia and intolerance are essential in this regard. Armenia has been vocal in condemning hate speech and xenophobia, especially the kind, used in a political discourse. Combating these phenomena has been a priority for Armenia during our Chairmanship at this Committee and it continues to remain as such.

2016 marks the 15th Anniversary of Armenia’s accession to the Council of Europe. These have been years of fruitful cooperation in various areas of mutual interest. In a few days we will officially launch the Council of Europe 2015-2018 Action Plan for Armenia, which will further promote reform process in our country.

In conclusion, I would also like to join the previous speakers in wishing every success to the incoming Chairmanship of Estonia.

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