Interview of NKR Minister of Foreign Affairs Karen Mirzoyan to the Canadian student association

22.05.2014

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Nagorno Karabakh Republic Karen Mirzoyan gave an interview to President of Canadian student association (AESPUL) Francois-Pierre Cartolano.

The goals of the organization are to establish a network of friendship and cooperation with the relevant actors of the political systems, as well as to promote knowledge about the different political systems of the world among students.

Following is the text of the interview.

The Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR or Artsakh Republic) attained independence following a combined Armenian-Artsakh victory over Azerbaijan in the Nagorno-Karabahk War of 1988-1994. Since then, this de facto sovereign state has shed its Soviet legacy by building a modern and prosperous society. However, the incredible progress that was made over a span of two decades is continually jeopardized by the unresolved state of the Karabakh conflict. Indeed, whilst a ceasefire was agreed upon in 1994, a peace treaty has yet to be signed between Stepanakert and Baku. Tensions still run high today, leading to occasional border skirmishes that threaten the region’s stability. Headed by Minister Karen Mirzoyan, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the NKR is hard at work preventing by all means possible a resumption of hostilities and promoting a wider recognition of Artsakh’s independence. I thus interviewed Mr. Mirzoyan to learn more about the NKR’s present regional and international situation.

What is the NKR’s current foreign policy?

The foreign policy of the NKR is aimed at strengthening peace, stability, and security in the region based on universal values of democracy, human rights, and freedoms. We are convinced that the current unrecognized status of Artsakh should not create barriers for its engagement in the international processes.

The key priorities of the NKR foreign policy are: the international recognition of the independence of the NKR, a peaceful settlement of the conflict between Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh, the protection of the rights and interests of the NKR citizens abroad (as well as Armenian refugees from Azerbaijan and internally displaced persons), the attraction of foreign investments to the NKR economy, and the promotion along with the strengthening of Artsakh-Armenia-Diaspora cooperation.

What is the extent of the NKR’s foreign relations in 2014?

We will continue our efforts to reinstate the positive tendencies towards the recognition of the NKR, as well as the restoration of a full-fledged negotiation format with immediate and direct participation of the NKR in all its phases: the absence of one of the main parties to the conflict at the negotiation table makes it difficult to achieve any real progress.

Other priority tasks this year will be to give a new impetus to a more lively and consistent work in the information field with the aim of spreading reliable knowledge about the conflict between Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh as well as promoting the significant achievements in the democratic state-building and the current developments in our Republic.

What are the main challenges faced by your Ministry?

The main challenge is the absence of international recognition of the NKR. This in turn hampers the full-fledged activities of our Ministry and sets certain limitations on the realization of its foreign policy. In the meantime, these existing challenges give us an additional impetus for more active and diligent work towards reaching the goals set before us.

In January 2014, Los Angeles’ city council adopted a resolution recognizing the NKR. Are more cities to follow and how is this gesture helpful?

In recent years there has been a tendency towards the recognition of the NKR on the level of different US and Australian states along with recognitions by many cities (followed by town-twinning or establishing friendship relationships with towns of the NKR).

I would like to underline, in particular, the resolutions and statements supporting the Karabakh people's right to self-determination from the legislative bodies of the American states of Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Maine, and Louisiana as well as the Australian state of New South Wales. Furthermore, there’s the establishment of efficient ties at the municipal level between the cities of Montebello, Fresno, Highland, Los-Angeles, Pico Rivera (of the US), le Pen Mirabo, and Vien (of France) with towns of the NKR. I am sure, that this process will have its logical continuation and will gain new impetus. Today Artsakh proved to the world that it is a well established state and can lead a responsible and active foreign policy. The path which Artsakh has taken is being adequately assessed by the international community.

Due to Azerbaijan’s aggressive stance, and following recent border skirmishes, is renewed aggression to be expected?

The aggressive stance of Azerbaijan manifested in its non-stop bellicose rhetoric, continued military buildup, and the constant threats of a resumption of a new war all pose a serious risk to peace and security in the region. Hatred towards anything Armenian has become a state policy in Azerbaijan. So far the Azeri threats remain on the level of militant rhetoric and provocations on the Line of Contact (i.e. the current borders inherited from the ceasefire in 1994), each of which could lead to unpredictable developments. As long as there are no guarantees to the irreversibility of peace process and non-resumption of military activities, peace and stability in the region will always be threatened.

To date, the only guarantee of the security of the NKR and its people is the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic’s Defense Army which is alert and ready to repel any encroachments along the borders. There’s also room here for a role to be played by the international community. A clear message about the absolute imperative of rejecting violence, honoring already reached agreements, and arriving to a negotiated outcome has to be an indispensable part of the collective practical efforts aimed at supporting the settlement of the conflict.

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