Armenian Foreign Minister: “Turkey Is a Destabilizing Force in Our Region”
The following transcript of an interview given by Armenian Foreign Minister Zohrab Mnatsakanyan to Sky News Arabia was published today on the Armenian Foreign Ministry’s website.
Question. Which are the reasons behind the recent hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan?
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan. Thank you very much for hosting me today in your program. The reasons are many, but I think the underlying reason is that this is a renewed attempt by Azerbaijan by way of attacking Armenia on 12th July to once again attempt to impose unilateral concessions from Armenia on the question of Nagorno-Karabakh. I think we have shown time and again that there is only one solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, a solution which is based on a solid compromise between all the parties concerned - Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan.
The maximalism of Azerbaijan in this peaceful resolution has been the main stumbling block to achieve progress in the negotiations. The ongoing rhetoric, the very aggressive, inflammatory, warmongering rhetoric of Azerbaijani leadership addressed to Armenia, and the Armenian people in general, the territorial, historical claims to Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, the use of force, the threat of force, have been the clear underlying reason of what we have today.
This is a renewed attempt, but I think it was once again demonstrated in most clear terms that there is no military solution to this conflict, that the conflict is only possible to be resolved strictly through peaceful means. And I think the capacities for defence of Armenia have once again been demonstrated in very strong terms and we remain committed to strictly peaceful resolution and will be rejecting the military solution in most decisive and resolute terms.
Question. Before talking about political and peaceful settlement, I would like to ask that the main conflict is related to Nagorno-Karabakh, then why this time the military hostilities were taking place in the north-eastern part of the Armenian-Azerbaijani border?
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan. I may assume that this is a big miscalculation from Azerbaijan that perhaps they might assume that the defence capacities of Armenia in this particular part are vulnerable and they might have penetrated the territory of Armenia from that part. But I think they have just witnessed that the Armenian capacities to defend are strong everywhere and that the attempts to destabilize the situation, the attempts to push this conflict further beyond Nagorno-Karabakh and make it a full-scale war with Armenia have been thwarted most clearly and decisively.
Question. What’s your comment regarding the support of Turkey to Azerbaijan? Erdogan stated that they fully support Azerbaijan, and the Minister of Defense of Turkey said that they will avenge for the losses of the Azerbaijani Army during the clashes.
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan. I cannot say that we were surprised about the position of Turkey - the destabilizing force not only in our region but in all other neighboring regions. We have been witnessing this projection of power and intrusion and interference in other neighboring regions including the Eastern Mediteranean, North Africa, and the Middle East. These neo-Ottoman policies of Turkey have been extending to our region as well. We have been following and reading very carefully these statements and one comment in this statement is also about the historical mission of Turkey in our region. We have to remind that that mission is a very sad one, it’s a criminal one, it’s a mission which has the memory of the perpetration of the Armenian Genocide at the beginning of last century.
Question. By recalling the Genocide and what happened in the history, is it why Turkey supports Azerbaijan against Armenian during these recent hostilities?
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan. As I was saying this is a projection of power and playing power politics in our region, projecting their intentions, their policies of shօwing instability in our region. These very dangerous geopolitical policies of Turkey are not contributing in any way to the peaceful resolution of the conflict, and not contributing in any way to the solid, strong stability in our region. These policies are in stark contradiction with the policies of other partners and neighbours who have been more balanced, very careful and understanding that there can be no peace in our region at the expense of any of the members of the countries in this region. So Turkey’s unilateral approach, policies of kinship with Azerbaijan are seeds of instability.
Question. Do you consider it fair that Turkey provides military assistance to Azerbaijan. The Minister of Defense Industries of Turkey said that during these hostilities the whole defense industry capacities are at Azerbaijan’s service against Armenia. Will Armenia appeal for any international and other military assistance?
Zohrab Mnatsakanya. Armenia has its capacities to defend. Armenia is also in partnership with others in the Collective Security Treaty Organization. Armenia is working with many other partners, Armenia is also cooperating with NATO. Armenia is a country which is working for stability and which is rejecting any military solution, any military way of doing regional politics in our region.
We will be fiercely rejecting such policy both on diplomatic fronts, politically and we will certainly be ready to defend. But any military expansion of instability and seeking military solutions would be catastrophic for the entire region. That will also show once again the very non-constructive and dangerous policies of Turkey.
Question. About the role of Russia. Now drills are being conducted in two - northern and western regions, as well as there is Russian mediation. Are you relying on Russia in cessation of hostilities?
Zohrab Mnatsakanyan. First of all, let me just go back again to the way in which we are seeking a peaceful resolution to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. The peaceful resolution is the ultimate priority. It is happening within an internationally agreed format of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship, which comprises France, the US and Russia.
Russia has been very constructively working with the other two countries to find an acceptable solution, a compromise-based solution for all the parties concerned - to Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh, and Azerbaijan. So far as Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh are concerned, we are fully committed to such a solution which is compromise-based, which is carefully crafted to meet the security interests, security concerns, the priorities of all the parties, and Russia has been very careful in its policies to seek strictly peaceful solutions.
We very much welcome that policy and we will continue working with Russia as much as we did with others, France and the US, the three of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship to pursue a strictly peaceful solution. The war is not an option. It is a conflagration and a disaster to the entire region. We are fully and very fiercely rejecting any military solution, any conflagration, any war in our region. This is our policy.