Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan said the 11-hour negotiations that led to an agreement on a humanitarian ceasefire on Friday were “rather difficult.”
For observers and reporters covering Mnatsakanyan’s talks with his Azerbaijani and Russian counterparts—Jeyhun Bayramov and Sergei Lavrov—were akin to waiting for the white smoke that signals the election of a pope in the Vatican.
Speaking to Armenia’s Channel 1 television station early Saturday morning Moscow time, Mnatsakanyan said that “the priority objective was to reach a situation whereby we would be able to put an end to this aggression.”
“The aggression in this case was unique because Azerbaijan’s actions were paired with overt and strong support from Turkey and with the involvement of international terrorist syndicates. In fact, our compatriots in Nagorno Karabakh were fighting in rather unique conditions, when in addition to Azerbaijan there was such a strong attack with the involvement of such forces,” Mnatsakanyan said.
He said that the situation in the region remains fragile and that it was necessary to come to a ceasefire agreement, which had become a serious challenge for the region—first and foremost for Artsakh.
“Speaking about any kind of progress without putting an end to this situation would certainly be impossible. What we were able to achieve during the rather lengthy negotiations is that we needed a ceasefire to stop this atrocity, this war,” said Mnatsakanyan.
Only after strengthening the ceasefire can there be discussion on the conflict settlement, said Mnatsakanyan who said it was important to reaffirm that the negotiations would continue in the same format with the mediation of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, which has been “the internationally recognized platform for the negotiations and the peace process.”
Mnatsakanyan stressed that any other power, namely Turkey, cannot have any role in this, he said pointing out that “the first objective is to end this crisis.”
The security of the people of Artsakh has been and continues to remain a priority for Armenia in the negotiation process. To that end, Mnatsakanyan said, recognizing the Artsakh people’s right to self-determination will allow them to “live freely and determine their own fate as a unit that is recognized by all as an independent state.”