YEREVAN—Armenia’s Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian on Tuesday refuted claims made earlier by his Azerbaijani counterpart about discussion that allegedly transpired when the two leaders met in Moscow in April.
On Monday, Mammadyarov lamented the so-called status quo in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict saying that the time to start substantial negotiations based on the documents discussed in Saint Petersburg and Moscow. He also reiterated Baku’s ongoing claims that the Karabakh conflict resolution should be based on UN Security Council resolution on the matter.
Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday with his Estonian counterpart Sven Mikser, who is on an official visit to Armenia, Nalbandian rejected Mammadyarov’s statements especially the one related to supposed agreements reached in Moscow in April at a meeting mediated by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.
Nalbandian pointed out that no Karabakh peace plan was discussed during the Moscow meeting saying that any assertion to the contrary by Mammadyarov was simply the figment of his imagination.
‘First, in Moscow the ministers of foreign affairs did not negotiate any document. The only text discussed was the text of the press release, which was agreed upon by the foreign ministers in the presence of the [Minsk Group] Co-Chairs,” explained Nalbandian adding that Armenian and Russian foreign ministries issued the release without changes while the Azerbaijani Foreign Ministry issued its own statement that veered from the agreed upon language at the Moscow meeting.
“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan published its own version of the press release, in which it did not mention that the ministers emphasized the importance of implementation the agreements reached in Vienna and Saint Petersburg, but instead stated that the ministers negotiated over the Vienna and St. Petersburg negotiations. This nonsense was published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan,’ asserted Nalbandian.
The April statement referenced by Nalbandian said that the participants of the Moscow talks “stressed the need to fulfill” confidence-building agreements that were reached by Armenia’s and Azerbaijan’s presidents last year.
He also took issue with Mammadyarov’s characterization of the meeting last July in St. Petersburg, where the sides agreed to increased monitoring on the frontline, as well as the installing of mechanisms that would record the cases of the ceasefire violations.
On this front, also, Nalbandian clarified that Azerbaijan’s departure from the decisions at the St. Petersburg summit not only violated the spirit of the talks but were also criticized by Moscow, whose foreign ministry, at the time, called Baku’s conduct “perverse.”
‘This is the difference between the approaches of Armenia and Azerbaijan – we talk about facts, they talk about some imaginary impressions,” said Nalbandian, who added that the St. Petersburg agreement was comprehensive and did not leave room for further interpretation.
Baku’s continued reluctance to fulfill the terms of the Vienna and St. Petersburg agreements for fear of further cementing the status quo has clearly impeded the Karabakh peace process, yet Mammadyarov’s insistence to blame others for the status quo remains a vital talking point for Azerbaijan.
Who impedes the implementation and fails to fulfill the agreements reached during the meetings between the presidents, foreign ministers—the very agreements which would allow the advancement o the negotiation process and change the status-quo? It is Azerbaijan,” said Nalbandian.
“Similarly, Azerbaijan speaks about freedom of speech and protection of fundamental freedoms and human rights, while it does the exact opposite. A new brand has been developed by Baku : to say one thing and do the exact opposite,” added Nalbandian.
The Armenian foreign minister also touched on Baku’s continuing insistence that UN Security Council resolutions are the basis for the peaceful resolution of the Karabakh conflict. He pointed out that at the time of the passage of the said resolutions in the early 1990’s, Azerbaijan failed to adhere to them, furthermore, adding that documents in question were approved by the UN Security council at the time of the war and urged an immediate end to military activities and in fact did not contain any provisions for resolving the conflict and served as a prelude to the 1994 cease-fire agreement.
Nalbandian then focused his response on what he called “targeted statements” that have been made by Minsk Group co-chairing countries regarding the incidents at the Karabakh-Azerbaijan border, known as the “Line of Contact,” adding that the presidents of the co-chairing countries stated that any side that initiates provocative actions will be called out.
“Nevertheless, Azerbaijan pretends that these calls have nothing to do with it. Azerbaijan pretends that it can ignore those statements. Azerbaijan spares no efforts to impede the establishment of mechanisms for investigation of ceasefire violations. Although it is clear to everyone who is the initiator of the violations even without the mechanism,” said Nalbandian.
However, he said, the co-chairs have been compelled to make targeted statements, citing a recent example where the co-chairs called out Azerbaijan for its cease-fire violations. Another example cited by Nalbandian was the co-chairs blatant warning about attempts to shift the discussion of the conflict resolution process in other forums and through other formats and outside of the Minsk Group purview.
“Targeted statements have been issued on numerous occasions. But how many statements must still be issued so that it becomes clear that statements alone are not enough,’ said Nalbandian who reiterated his message to the co-chairs that they must take concrete steps “in order to curb Azerbaijan’s continuous attempts to destabilize the situation in the region with all its consequences not only for the region, but in a much broader context.”