For the second time this year, the National Security Councils of Armenia and Artsakh convened a joint session, this time in Yerevan, on Monday where security concerns for both republics were discussed and joint efforts were coordinated.
Monday’s meeting was co-chaired by Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Artsakh President Bako Sahakian. Also attending the session were President Armen Sarkissian and the speakers of the Armenian and Artsakh parliaments Ararat Mirzoyan and Ashot Ghulyan.
In March, the two security councils met in Stepanakert where the Karabakh conflict peace process was high on the agenda, with Pashinyan and Sahakian both emphasizing the need for Artsakh to return to the negotiating table.
The Karabakh conflict settlement was also high on the agenda of Monday’s evening, with a special focus on the upcoming March 2020 parliamentary and presidential elections in Artsakh.
“It is obvious that no significant progress can be achieved in the Artsakh issue without the presence and expression of popular confidence. And from this perspective, the opinion of people living in the conflict zone is more than essential, as they will be the immediate bearers of the benefits and risks of any settlement,” said Pashinyan in his opening remarks of Monday’s meeting.
“This fact highlights the role of the people of Artsakh and their elected authorities in the peace process. In this respect, the upcoming elections in Artsakh are becoming ever more important. All basic documents for the settlement of the conflict either include a reference to the participation of the elected authorities of Artsakh or have been approved by representatives of the elected authorities of Artsakh,” added Pashinyan who emphasized the need for the Artsakh elections to be held on the basis of an international mandate, which he said, would greatly enhance Artsakh’s chances of being incorporated into the peace talks.
Pashinyan stressed the need to adhere to the provisions of the cease fire agreement, citing last week’s shelling of civilian targets in Armenia by Azerbaijani armed forces as undermining the peace process.
He also reiterated his long-standing notion that any peace agreement must be accepted by the people of Armenia, Artsakh and Azerbaijan, expressing hope that Baku will sound a similar plea in its approach to the peace process.
Pashinyan touched on the need for a comprehensive explanation of the Madrid Principles, which are being used as a base for talks by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen, saying that there have been conflicting explanations from Azerbaijan and the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmen.
“The issue of Artsakh’s status is of primary importance for us. Do the proposed principles and elements allow Artsakh to preserve and develop its status outside of Azerbaijan’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, or are these principles and elements meant to limit the right of the people of Artsakh to self-determination, as insisted by Azerbaijan?” said Pashinyan.
In his remarks, Sahakian, the Artsakh President, highlighted the key role Armenia has and continues to play as the guarantor of Artsakh’s security, emphasizing ongoing efforts to strengthen the military capabilities of the Artsakh Armed Forces and elevating the combat readiness of troops. He also pointed out the need for Artsakh economic and structural self-sufficiency as a key to the success of developing Artsakh.
“The settlement of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict is not only a decisive factor for the present and future of the Armenian statehood and the Armenian people, but is also one of the most important issues of regional and even global politics. Given the importance of the issue, I would like to dwell once more on a number of points related to the settlement of the conflict,” explained Sahakian.
“One of the most important tasks of the Armenian diplomacy is the imperative of preserving the status of Artsakh as a sovereign geopolitical factor, which in turn can expand our ability to conduct a flexible policy. Well aware of all this, the opposite side resorts to various manipulative tricks, including the speculation of the so-called Azerbaijani community as a separate entity and the continued efforts to engage it in the negotiation process. In so doing, they are trying to impede the restoration of the full-fledged format and simultaneously turn the fact of Artsakh’s independence and statehood into a virtual reality,” added Sahakian.
The president of Artsakh said that his government was sparing nothing to ensure that the upcoming elections would be fair and further advance Artsakh’s democratic sovereignty
“Everything will be done to ensure that the next elections are held in a fair, transparent, democratic manner, in an atmosphere of stability and tolerance, in line with the letter and spirit of the law,” said Sahakian.
Armenia’s President Sarkissian also emphasized the importance of the upcoming elections in Artsakh, saying the success of the upcoming March polls are crucial from a political perspective.
“If elections in the Republic of Armenia are of great importance, then I can say the future elections in the Republic of Artsakh have a double or a triple significance for all our people because these elections’ being transparent, fair is a huge political tool for all of us,” said Sarkissian. “The tasks of our national security do not start and do not end, of course, within the framework of either in the military, diplomatic, or in resolving the Artsakh issue; they are much broader.