Artsakh can never be part of independent Azerbaijan, Armenia’s top diplomat says

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is one of the highest priorities on Armenia’s foreign policy agenda, Armenian Foreign Minister Edward Nalbanidan said in his address to the Fourth European Armenian Convention.

“As you know three days ago a Summit of the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan was held in Geneva. When it comes to the outcome of the meeting itself everything was clearly indicated in the joint statement of the Foreign Ministers and the Co-Chairs. The meeting took place in a constructive atmosphere. The Presidents agreed to take measures to intensify the negotiation process and to take additional steps to reduce tensions on the Line of Contact. The Co-Chairs expressed their satisfaction with these direct talks, which took place after a long interval. They remain ready to work with the sides on mediating a peacefully negotiated settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. As a next step, the Co-Chairs will organize working sessions with the Foreign Ministers in the near future,” Minister Nalbandian said.

“As you know the Armenian side has long been advocating for the peaceful negotiated settlement and for the reduction of tensions and all these have been reflected in the joint statement. The meeting of the Presidents after about sixteen months interval was made possible due to the able mediation of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs and this in itself can be considered as a positive thing,” Armenia’s top diplomat stated.

“For the first time in about four years it was possible to adopt, although quite brief, a joint statement with the participation of the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan together with the Co-Chairs. As you know on numerous previous occasions Armenia expressed its readiness to join the statements of the Co-Chairs, however Azerbaijan always refused to have a common statement,” the Minister added.

“Against this backdrop, it is regrettable, that after the Summit Baku, time and time again, has been engaged in cheap and primitive manipulations, claiming that allegedly an agreement was reached in Geneva to refrain from making any comments not on the outcome of the Summit but the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution as a whole. It is clear, why Azerbaijan does this: obviously it tries to avoid the responsibility for its own destructive policy,” Edward Nalbandian stated.

“First, the damage caused to the peace process by the April 2016 Azerbaijani aggression against Nagorno-Karabakh has not been overcome yet. Second, Baku has refused to implement Vienna and St. Petersburg agreements, which were aimed at creating conducive conditions for moving the peace process forward. It is well known, that Azerbaijan has backtracked from the agreements on numerous occasions previously questioning its credibility as a negotiating party, Minister Nalbandian added.

“Third, Azerbaijan refuses to reiterate the principles of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution that have been presented by the Co-Chair countries as a basis for the settlement, namely: the non-use of force or threat of use of force, self-determination and territorial integrity,” he stated.

“Fourth, despite numerous calls of the Co-Chairs to respect the 1994-95 trilateral ceasefire agreements, that do not have time limitations, Baku continues grossly violate the ceasefire.
Yes, Armenia is convinced that there is a need to conduct intensive negotiations. We strongly believe that if Baku abides to the calls of the Co-Chairs to strictly respect the ceasefire, implement previously reached agreements, reiterate its adherence to the principles of the conflict resolution proposed by the Co-Chairs and constructively engage in the negotiations that will open the possibilities for moving the peace process forward,” Edward Nalbandian said.

“Armenia, together with the Co-Chairs of the Minsk Group will continue the efforts aimed at the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict exclusively by peaceful means,” the Foreign Minister said.

“Nagorno-Karabakh has never been part of independent Azerbaijan and, as President Sargsyan stressed on numerous occasions, can never be,” Minister Nalbandian concluded.

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