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Armenian Foreign Minister Says Karabakh and Turkey Remain Country's Fundamental Challenges

The following is an Armenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs press release.

On November 6, Armenian Foreign MInister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, alongside the Foreign Minister of Ukraine Vadym Prystaiko, participated in a lecture at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs, entitled “A talk with the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Ukraine”, dedicated to the 10th anniversary of the Eastern Partnership.

In his remarks Minister Mnatsakanyan presented in detail Armenia’s cooperation with the European Union within the framework of Eastern Partnership, the ongoing democratic reforms in Armenia, the country’s foreign policy priorities. 

Touching upon the Velvet Revolution, Minister Mnatsakanyan, particularly, noted that the wide public mandate, received during the elections, held last year, is also a trust in the government and a big responsibility to address the immediate priorities under that mandate:   

“Throughout the first months the government has been absolutely focused on delivering on those most immediate demands, reflected in the mandate: the questions of corruption, the questions of equal space, equal opportunities in economic and social life, the question of justice, the question of elections, and the political will has demonstrated its power, that you can address corruption ahead on,if you have a political will, that you can organize elections which are accepted by the public and political forces and that is when you have shown the political will.But that is not enough. That’s only the beginning. It’s only the first step,because consolidating these institutions is the most important challenge and the most important objective. To make sure that irrespective of political will political institutions, the public institutions do gain strength to sustain the model which is based on respect and strength of democracy, human rights, rule of law. And this is what we live through and live with today in Armenia.”

Within the context of Armenia’s foreign policy priorities and cooperation with different partners, the Minister noted:

“Our foreign policy is built in a very careful way to consolidate, to sustain consolidation of our national security architecture. To demonstrate the point, we have two fundamental challenges to our security. One challenge is the unresolved Nagorno-Karabakh challenge, the other challenge is Turkey threat. The non existence of relations with Turkey, the consistent denial of justice in case of Turkey, the failure to build on what we have invested in, what many of you may know, the Zurich protocols, they, in combination with some other factors, they represent a serious security threat to Armenia. ”

During the Q&A session, after the opening remarks by Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Ukraine, in a response to an Azerbaijani deputy’s question on Nagorno-Karabakh, on whether Armenia is ready to apply to international tribunal alongside with Azerbaijan to investigate alleged war crimes, ethnic cleansings committed by Armenia, which are mentioned in the resolutions of the UN, EU, CoE, Minister Mnatsakanyan pointed to crimes, committed by Azerbaijan.

''Have you heard about Baku? Have you heard about Sumgait, Maragha, have you heard about the occupation of Shahumyan region? Have you heard about the occupation of the part of Martakert region? Have you heard about the occupation of a part of the Martuni region? Do you want me to continue? This is exactly the point. Are you prepared to reduce rhetoric? Are you prepared to understand our concerns? Are you prepared to engage in such dialogue? Or it is your truth or no truth? Or is it your way or no way? We will never have peace, if we are maximalists. That is the whole point that I was making about preparing populations to peace. You were talking about some problems that concern us. Do not pretend to be saints! 

I was saying there is a question of security. A question of security, that is the only security arrangement, that does not allow the resurgence of aggression, occupation - the words that you know and you use so often. Aggression, occupation and existential physical security threat to our compatriots - 150.000 Armenians. They are humans, they have names, they have families, they have homes, they have their physical security concerns and there is no other security arrangement than what it is today. This is what the negotiations are about - how to come to something, which is not taking us to maximalist demands by one party at the expense of the other''.

In a response to Azerbaijani representatives’ questions as to how it is possible to talk about peace when Armenia’s Prime Minister declares: “Artsakh is Armenia and period” and what kind of steps were taken to prepare the population of Armenia to peace, Minister Mnatsakanyan noted: ''First of all I want to refer to something very important, refer to what the distinguished member of parliament of Belarus was saying, his message I think is very important, the message was about the sense of ownership of the peace process by those who are the actual stakeholders. You’re absolutely right, it is first of all for Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Nagorno Karabakh, to bear the responsibility and to find a solution, to the peaceful resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict. And that also refers to the question, I think, Mr. Bakhtiar was asking. 

Look, the way in which the Prime Minister was putting the message of peace, which is acceptable to the people of Armenia, to the people of Nagorno Karabakh, and the people of Azerbaijan, was a message that deserves to be reciprocated, that is a message which reflects on one very important premise, in finding a solution, and that is the capacity of the parties to look at the concerns of the other party, and calculate that balance of commitments in a way that reflects the concerns of each party. 

That is the sense of having a solution, which is acceptable to Armenia, Azerbaijan, Nagorno Karabakh, to the people of Armenia, people of Nagorno Karabakh, people of Azerbaijan. I think, this is something that also builds on what the next question was about. 

Now, we have, as I have indicated, there are some proposals, some ideas, on which we are trying to build, the way in which we can in a depoliticize such people to people contact. Like, we are having this politicized contact, we are trying to blame each other, we are trying to be ignorant of the other party's concerns. This demonstration of a politicized discussion is what, exactly what we do not need. And I mentioned journalists, there are some various ideas, but we need, and there is a good understanding on both parties, now that we are talking with my colleague, the Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan, to do it in a way, in a careful way, that we can sustain what we are trying to do now, create a platform in which some experience can be generated, so that we can continue and build on it, that the journalist example I mentioned. We can start generating a new different narrative in our region, so far as the peaceful resolution of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict is concerned''.

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