Decisions on Karabakh status and return of territories outside Armenia’s competence, Deputy FM says

In order to continue the negotiations with the mediation of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs, it’s necessary to reinforce the ceasefire regime, Armenian Deputy Foreign Minister Shavarsh Kocharyan said in an interview with the Austrian Die Presse.

He reminded that despite the periodic violations, the ceasefire agreement signed in 1994 by Nagorno Karabakh, Armenia and Azerbaijan is still in place. “Azerbaijan violated the ceasefire on April 2, unleashing military actions. The ceasefire was restored under a verbal agreements reached on April 5. Azerbaijan is trying to foil the Minsk process. Now it’s important to reinforce the ceasefire regime, because soldiers were killed even after April 5.”

Asked why the escalation happened now, Shavarsh Kocharyan said “the issue should be addressed to Baku.” “Azerbaijan pursues the policy of solving this conflict through force. Obviously, they cherished the illusion of solving the issue through a Blitzkrieg, but failed.  There is a great discontent in the country connected with the corrupt regime, and war is a means to divert the public attention,” he added.

“War is a threat to all of us, both Armenians and Azerbaijanis,” the Deputy FM noted.

Speaking about the ways out of the situation, Kocharyan said “international mediators should condemn Baku’s attacks.”

“Baku constantly demands return of “occupied territories,” but keeps silent about the occupied regions of Nagorno Karabakh, which remain under Azeri control. The Madrid Principles speak about Karabakh self-determination and Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. There is an opportunity for mutual concessions,” he added.

“Unilateral concessions are excluded. One should realize that there are questions outside Armenia’s competence. Yerevan cannot declare about return of territories, because it’s up to Nagorno Karabakh to decide. Yerevan is not authorized to make a decision on the status of Nagorno Karabakh. It’s also up to NKR. We refrain from recognizing Nagorno Karabakh in order to maintain the negotiation process,” Kocharyan said.

“If Azerbaijan unleashes large-scale aggression, it will lead to the recognition of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic by Armenia,” the Deputy Foreign Minister stressed.

Speaking about Russia, Shavarsh Kocharyan said “Moscow is our ally, but has close economic ties with Baku; therefore, it will be inclined to keep the balance in the South Caucasus.”

As for the sale of Russian weapons to Azerbaijan, the Deputy FM said Armenia has raised the issue on the highest level. “I stand for complete embargo on weapons for all conflicting parties. The Minsk Group co-chairing countries can reach that at the UN Security Council.”

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