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Statement delivered by Ambassador Armen Papikyan at the 1246 PC Meeting in Response to the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, to the PRCiO and the Head of the HLPG

07.11.2019

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Mr. Chairman,

We warmly welcome the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, Ambassadors Igor Popov, Stephane Visconti and Andrew Schofer, as well as Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office (PRCiO), Ambassador Andrzej Kasprzyk and Head of the High Level Planning Group (HLPG), Colonel Vladimir Minarik to the Permanent Council (PC) and thank them for their comprehensive reports.

At the outset, we once again reiterate our longstanding, strong support to the efforts of the Co-Chair countries France, Russia and the United States aimed at assisting the sides to reach a peaceful solution to the conflict. In this regard, let me express our appreciation for the work carried out by the Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship in the course of this year aimed at addressing all aspects of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution. Let me also express our unwavering adherence to the peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

The presentation of the report of the Co-Chairs is another opportunity to come up with our own assessment of developments of the past year within Nagorno-Karabakh peace process and offer our forward-looking views.

First, let me touch upon those developments which are encouraging and on which we can further build on.

The overall situation on the line of contact and borders has been comparatively calm, though periodical violation of cease fire continued to claim lives. Direct lines of communication between Armenia and Azerbaijan have been operational, though their efficiency on certain instances of escalation seemed to be less apparent than it was expected.

The attempt of Azerbaijan to strengthen its position through massive engineering and fortification work particularly on the border served as one of the main reasons of tensions.

Lack of trust among parties and cycle of violence and retaliation caused also by accidental incidents have been another source of instability. In short, yes there has been a progress in respecting cease-fire regime, however, this progress was limited and fragile. We need more efforts to strengthen the ceasefire. On all instances of escalation, the office of the PRCiO played an important role in easing the tension as a channel of communication and humanitarian actor. This role is highly appreciated. However, the potential of this mandate, including in prevention and early action, is not yet fully utilized as there is a lack of implementation of the agreements on the expansion of the Office reached in 2016. Therefore, we need to move beyond Dushanbe agreement and strengthen it with more OSCE involvement on the ground.

On certain occasions ceasefire violations by Azerbaijan carried out a message of the threat to use the force. This is unacceptable. Armenia will never take any argument based on the threat of the use of force. Armenia is a sole guarantor of the security of the Nagorno-Karabakh and will never hesitate to act in response to the existential threats to its people.

Throughout this year it was possible to bring positions on some issues closer to each other during number of Ministerial meetings reflected in joint statements first in Milano December last year, Paris this January and then in April in Moscow. On top of this meetings the March Summit in Vienna opened new opportunities to advance peace process. Two important agreements have been reached in those joint statements. First, to prepare populations for peace and second, work towards establishing an environment conducive to peace.

To this end we need patience, careful preparation and a commitment to refrain from using projects aimed at preparation of populations to peace as a point scoring or propaganda exercise. We, our societies know each other positions and narratives very well. We can lose another 30 years in debating who is right and who is wrong and what divides us. But if we are serious in advancing peace process we need to build bridges, we need to work towards common narrative of peace.

Peace is always a compromise. One cannot always insist on its maximalist position and then be caught in surprise when the other side mirrors this stance.

Peace cannot come as a conspiracy between closed circles of elites. It needs to embrace people on all sides. It is with this in mind that Prime Minister of Armenia proposed a formula which clearly establishes that any solution need to be acceptable for the people of Armenia, people of Nagorno-Karabakh and people of Azerbaijan.

Today Armenia is a democratic state whose leaders represent their people and are accountable before them. We hope that Azerbaijani authorities can make a similar statement when it comes to their relationship to their people. Therefore, they can also at some point agree with a simple formula proposed by the Prime Minister of Armenia and I repeat any solution need to be acceptable for the people of Armenia, people of Nagorno-Karabakh and people of Azerbaijan.

The agreement to prepare populations to peace can be seen as a first step in this direction.

Mr. Chairman,

The efficiency of negotiations highly depends on the strong ownership of the process by people directly affected by the conflict. The people of Nagorno-Karabakh through their elected authorities had been involved in negotiation process from the very beginning of the Minsk Process.

The United Nations Security Council resolutions adopted in 1993 to which Azerbaijan makes consistent references is very clear about this by singling out Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh as a party to the conflict.

However, first and foremost the involvement of authorities of Nagorno-Karabakh is a practical issue rather than a legal or historic argument. Armenia can continue to negotiate on two tables first with Azerbaijan and then with Nagorno-Karabakh. But if we really aim for efficient process and finally to breakthrough, we need the most important stakeholder to be in, not out.

The right to determine Nagorno-Karabakh’s final status should be exercised exclusively by the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, freely and without any limitation or coercion.

The next year elections in Nagorno-Karabakh provide an opportunity for all of us, including Azerbaijan, to have partner which would make negotiations more inclusive and efficient.

Mr. Chairman,

We have already had an opportunity to dwell on necessity of promoting an idea of compromise. From the point of substance, this principle should be reflected in the parity of commitments. The situation when one side gets tangible outcome and another side a theory on good intentions cannot serve as a basis for effective conflict resolution. The status and security of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh continue to remain key to the conflict resolution and, hence, it is an absolute priority for the Republic of Armenia.

We support the activities of Ambassador Kasprzyk and his team on the ground, aimed at consolidating the ceasefire regime and promoting confidence-building measures between parties to the conflict. Those activities proved to be effective in reducing tensions along the Line of Contact and state border. We are concerned that on certain occasions monitoring exercises have been impeded by Azerbaijan particularly at borders and they need to be resumed.

We believe that the only OSCE presence in conflict area and actually in the entire South Caucuses deserve to be better equipped when it comes to human, financial and technical resources.

We would like to reiterate our position in regard to the composition of the High-Level Planning Group. The HLPG and all its members should be able to treat all parties to the conflict in an equal and impartial manner and thus enjoy support and consent of all parties to the conflict. Otherwise the credibility of the Group is going to be at stake. Kinship and other affiliations are not the best qualities when it comes to mediation and conflict resolution. The position of Turkey saying that we will be there irrespective of the will of the parties to the conflict is counterproductive and it impedes the work of the HLPG.

As far as I can judge from previous years records it became sort of demonstration of allegiance by Turkish delegation towards Azerbaijan in support of respect of territorial integrity of the later and in sharp contrast with the logic and spirit of negotiation process under the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship. I can only regret that Turkey while being member of the Minsk Group choose to side with one party to the conflict and become a staunch defender of the principle of territorial integrity. A country whose foreign policy towards its neighbours’ is a living textbook of continued occupation and permanent violation of the principle of territorial integrity, perhaps should at least try to be consistent or show certain restrain.

With these words, let me once again express our appreciation to Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, PRCiO for their hard work and dedication and assure Armenia’s continued support in their future activities.

I thank you.