Ambassador Zohrab Mnatsakanyan, Permanent Representative of Armenia to the UN Security Council addressed the UN Security Council open debate on “Maintenance of International Peace and Security: Conflicts in Europe.”
The Ambassador’s full speech is provided below:
I thank the Secretary General and the other briefers for their contribution to this debate. We share the concern reflected in the concept paper for this debate that despite high expectations for Europe to become a strategically stable continent following the end of the Cold War, new challenges and threats emerged on the continent in the 1990s. However, apart from the broader geopolitical processes or religious, ethnic and territorial disputes, the causes of these challenges stemmed also from the blatant and violent denial to peoples the right to pursue their aspirations for freedom and self-determination.
The Nagorno Karabakh conflict is a point in case. It is a conflict, which in effect has been a struggle of the people of Nagorno Karabakh for freedom and self-determination, a struggle against historical injustice of the 1920s and persistent discrimination throughout 70 years of Azerbaijani rule over them. It is a struggle, which witnessed barbaric pogroms at the end of 1980s and the beginning of 1990s against Armenians in Baku, Sumgait, Kirovabad and other parts of Azerbaijan as a reaction to the legitimate aspirations of the people of Nagorno Karabakh to freely determine their future. It is a struggle for self-defence and physical survival of the people of Nagorno Karabakh as a result of an outright aggression, war and ethnic cleansing unleashed against them by the newly independent Azerbaijan at the beginning of the 1990s.
The Nagorno Karabakh conflict is about a struggle of the people of Nagorno Karabakh against the claim of sovereignty over them by a despotic regime in Azerbaijan with a shocking human rights record, which suppresses and suffocates any dissent, any aspiration for freedoms and rights within its own jurisdiction. It is a struggle against barbarity of a regime, which ruthlessly glorifies Ramil Safarov, a murderer, who in 2004 axes to death an Armenian officer while asleep, during a military training course. It is a struggle against a claim of jurisdiction by a regime, which persistently cultivates and inspires Armenophobia, hatred and intolerance against Armenians. It is a struggle for freedom and survival. It is a struggle of the people of Nagorno Karabakh to freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development. It is, in other words, a struggle for the right to self-determination.
The renewed attempt of aggression by Azerbaijan against Nagorno Karabakh at the beginning of April 2016 and ensuing perpetration of atrocities and outright barbarity, of which this delegation has consistently informed the Council, has been a stark reminder about the urgency of supporting the peace process under the auspices of the internationally agreed format of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship. There is no alternative to a peaceful settlement of the conflict. The war is not an option. The international community should forcefully reject the use of force and any pursuit of a military solution to this conflict. The 1994/95 cease-fire agreements, signed by Nagorno Karabakh, Azerbaijan and Armenia constitute the foundation of the cessation of hostilities. Armenia urges Azerbaijan to undertake immediate and genuine steps towards the implementation of the agreements reached at the summits in Vienna and St. Petersburg in May and June 2016 respectively in order to create conditions conducive to the advancement of the peace process. Azerbaijan should bring to an end without delay the persistent war mongering and cultivation of hatred and intolerance against Armenians and instead invest genuine efforts in promoting a culture of peace, as well as respect for human rights. Armenia urges Azerbaijan to demonstrate genuine political will and effort in advancing the peace process on the basis of the principles and elements put forward by France, Russia and the United States, the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group and reiterated in their numerous statements at all levels, including the heads of states of the Co-Chairing states.
Finally, Armenia expresses its deep appreciation to the international community, to this Council and to the Secretary-General of the United Nations for their continued and unwavering support to the efforts of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, the only internationally agreed format of negotiations for the peaceful settlement of the Nagorno Karabakh conflict, to reach a lasting settlement as soon as possible.