YEREVAN (ArmRadio)—Armenia’s Foreign Minister Edward Nalbandian met on Monday with the UK Minister of State for Europe David Lidington. The two ministers discussed a wide range of issues related to the development of bilateral relations, the settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh issue, and the situation in the Middle East.
“This second visit in a ministerial capacity is in itself an illustration of a strong bilateral relationship, which exists between Armenia and the United Kingdom,” Lidington said at a joint press conference with Nalbandian.
Speaking about the Nagorno Karabakh issue, the British diplomat said: “We strongly support the efforts of the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group to try to find a way forward towards a political solution to the conflict in Nagorno Karabakh and reconciliation between Armenia and Azerbaijan.
“The UK believes that the international community needs to redouble its support to what the Minsk Group Co-Chairs are seeking to achieve, because the political conflict and the human tragedy, which is at the heart of the conflict, has been continuing for too long. It is damaging to regional stability and European stability, more generally,” he said.
United Nations Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Alfred de Zayas recently published a report, which states, in part, that “the realization of the right of self-determination is essential to maintaining local, regional and international peace and must be seen as an important conflict-prevention strategy.”
Commenting on the report, Nalbandian said: “We have always stated that the realization of the right to self-determination is not the cause of different conflicts. On the contrary, the denial of the right to self-determination creates ground for conflicts. This is what the report is about. We have always said the realization of the right to self-determination can help prevent new conflicts and help establish and maintain peace and stability in the region and the world, at large.
“The realization of the right to self-determination can contribute to the reinforcement of democracy and protection of human rights. The report also stresses this,” Nalbandian said. He reminded that the UN had just 51 members at the time of its establishment, while the number has grown to 193, which is the result of the realization of the right to self-determination.
“Going against the right to self-determination is equal to going against evolution. This important report comes to prove the approaches Armenia, and a number of other countries have always had on the issue. A country that respects democracy and human rights cannot be against the right to self-determination. The most recent example was the Scottish referendum,” Nalbandian stated.
David Lidington was asked to what extent the UK’s economic involvement in Azerbaijan prevent the country from voicing a just assessment of the obvious cases of human rights violations in Azerbaijan, to which the Minister responded, “We’ve been completely open in what we’ve said about the situation in Azerbaijan.”
“I’ve issued public statements about particular cases in Azerbaijan within the last year. Members of Parliament in the House of Commons raise concerns about human rights in many countries, including Azerbaijan from time to time. The Foreign Office publishes an annual report on the state of human rights worldwide,” he said.
As for the UK’s economic interests in the Caspian Region, Lidington said: “The UK is aware of the risks to economic interests in the event of further instability in the South Caucasus. There is a particular imperative on our part to see an end to the frozen conflicts as being in our national interest too.”
Speaking about the Armenian-Turkish protocols, the British Minister said “the protocols should be implemented without delay.”
“We want to see the normalization of relations between Armenia and Turkey. We think that both parties have much to gain from that,” he said.
Lidington also visited Dzidzernagapert on Monday morning to pay tribute to the memory of the victims of the Armenian Genocide.
“Just paid my respects at Tsiternakaberd Memorial remembering upcoming centenary of 1915 and its importance for all Armenians,” the Minister said in a Twitter post.