Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan said on Thursday that the possibility for peace in the South Caucasus requires both Azerbaijan’s genuine engagement and the international community’s strong support for Armenia’s efforts, “which are based on well-developed and well-known principles.”
Mirzoyan made the comments when he addressed the OSCE foreign ministers’ summit, currently being held in the North Macedonian capital, Skopje.
In his remarks, Mirzoyan was critical of the OSCE, which he said was the largest security organization in the world, saying that its stature is declining since “once duly adopted and well elaborated mandates and commitments are totally disregarded.”
“This process started several years ago when the OSCE failed to implement its core tasks – early warning and conflict prevention. Unfortunately, this process will continue unless there is no common understanding that violation of international law in any part of the world shall be unequivocally condemned and not tolerated, otherwise it creates a sense of impunity becoming the new normal in other parts of the world. Regrettably, the OSCE area of responsibility is not an exclusion, ” noted Ararat Mirzoyan.
The Foreign Minister noted that, in the South Caucasus, the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the root causes of which was hatred and xenophobia in its various forms and the existential threat to the people who wanted to live in freedom and dignity in their ancestral homeland, reached its final stage this year.
“After a nine-month long inhuman siege, on September 19 Azerbaijan launched yet another large-scale military offensive against the people of Nagorno-Karabakh which resulted in mass forced displacement of its indigenous population. At this point in time, we can state that in silent agreement of the international community Azerbaijan has reached its long-standing goal – to get the territory of Nagorno-Karabakh without its Armenian population,” said Mirzoyan.
“However, even after having this done the claims of the Azerbaijani side were not halted. Now the entire sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia has become the target of our neighbor. This, coupled with continuous hatred, military rhetoric, use of force and threats of use of force, refusal to come to the meetings organized by various international actors, including the US and the EU, illustrates that this country is not sincerely interested in peace and stability in our region,’’ he added.
“Despite this humanitarian disaster in Nagorno-Karabakh, Armenia remains committed to opening a new era of peace in the South Caucasus and believes that it is still possible. For turning this possibility into a reality, we need reciprocally genuine engagement of Azerbaijan and the strong support of international actors to our efforts, which are based on well elaborated and well-known principles. These principles that were widely discussed and admitted or at least not rejected by the Azerbaijani side include: mutual recognition of territorial integrity based on the 1991 Alma-Ata Declaration and without any further ambiguity; delimitation of the state border between Armenia and Azerbaijan based on the freshest and legitimate maps – USSR General Staff maps of 1974-1978; opening of all transport and economic communications with full respect of the countries’ sovereignty and jurisdiction, as well as based on the principles of equality and reciprocity,” Mirzoyan said.
He reaffirmed Armenia’s commitment to the aforementioned principles.
“This ambitious project is aimed at connecting East with West and North with South and through regional cooperation create conditions for strengthening economic and cultural ties, soften contradictions and foster better connectivity and political dialogue between the countries of our region,” Mirzoyan said referring to the Armenian government’s so-called “Crossroads for Peace” plan.
“In this regard the opening of the Armenia-Turkey border is also of crucial importance. As you might be aware, we have reached the agreement to open the land border for 3rd country citizens and Armenian and Turkish citizens holding diplomatic passports, which was reconfirmed by my counterpart, Minister Fidan at our bilateral meeting on October 23; even concrete timing was indicated meaning upcoming weeks, and we hope that in the nearest future we will implement this first, but quite tangible step,” Mirzoyan said.
“There are also a number of humanitarian issues on Armenia-Azerbaijan normalization that cannot be ignored. The release of all Armenian detainees, including the ones imprisoned after September 19, cooperation in addressing the fate of missing persons, protection of Armenian cultural property in and around Nagorno-Karabakh can pave a way to long-lasting, just and dignified peace,” Mirzoyan added.
In conclusion, the foreign minister said that Armenia, as a responsible member of OSCE, “has proven on numerous occasions its devotion to regional and global peace and will continue to take steps to that end.”
“And once again, I reiterate that Armenia remains ready for negotiations and we need Azerbaijan to stop rejecting the proposals of facilitators to meet and finalize the peace treaty. To ensure this goal we need genuine efforts of all interested parties and the international community as a whole to turn the page of violence in the South Caucasus and strengthen international rule-based order,” said Mirzoyan.