Interview of Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Artsakh Masis Mayilian to Armenpress Agency


- Mr. Mayilian, what are the main issues of Artsakh’s foreign policy agenda and your priorities as the new Foreign Minister of Artsakh on solving the problems existing in the field?

- In October 2017, President of the Republic of Artsakh Bako Sahakyan presented the program of Artsakh’s political and socio-economic development, which also comprises the priority directions of the Artsakh foreign policy agenda.

The efforts of the Foreign Ministry will continue to be mostly directed to developing and strengthening the existing positive trends in the process of international recognition of Artsakh’s independence and ensuring its irreversibility. In particular, steps will be taken aimed at expanding the geography of Artsakh’s recognition and establishing bilateral cooperation with the entities, which have recognized us. The development of ties within decentralized cooperation formats will allow to implement different programs in the fields of culture, education, sports, economy, and local self-governance.

The Foreign Ministry of Artsakh will continue the consistent works on recognizing the right to self-determination exercised by Artsakh as a basis for the peaceful settlement of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict.

Resisting the Azerbaijani attempts to isolate Artsakh is especially significant on the background of Azerbaijan’s destructive stance on the conflict settlement. Creation of external favorable conditions for the Republic’s economic development and attracting investments is one of our priorities. In order to solve this problem, the Artsakh Foreign Ministry closely cooperates with the country’s ministries and structures responsible for the economic bloc.

One of the key directions of the Artsakh foreign policy agenda is the further expansion and intensification of the Armenia-Artsakh-Diaspora cooperation. We highly appreciate the Diaspora’s contribution to the development and consolidation of Artsakh and protection of its interests abroad, as well as consider Artsakh’s participation in the process of preservation of the Armenian identity in the Diaspora important.

One of the main components of the country’s foreign policy activities is to keep the international community informed about the realities in Artsakh and to maintain the country’s positive image. In this sense, the Foreign Ministry plays a key role, and we will continue actively working in this direction.

The Foreign Ministry of Artsakh is consistently implementing the above-mentioned tasks, programs, and other foreign policy initiatives. 

- On October 16, a meeting of the Armenian and Azerbaijani Presidents took place. However, before and after the meeting, the tensions on the borderline increased, and the shelling resulted in casualties. Thereafter, the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmen meeting with the Foreign Ministers of the two countries took place. How do you assess the effectiveness of such meetings in the context of the borderline incidents?

- The meetings of the Armenian and Azerbaijani Presidents and Foreign Ministers are important in terms of reducing the tensions in the conflict zone. The restoration of the full-fledged and full-format negotiation process is possible only if stability is achieved. Consequently, at the current stage, the top-priority issue is the irreversibility of the peace process, for which the 1994 and 1995 agreements on establishing and strengthening the ceasefire should be strictly fulfilled, as well as the agreements reached during the negotiations, which, in particular, relate to the establishment of mechanisms of investigation of incidents, the expansion of the Office of the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office and the increase in his monitoring capacities, should me implemented. The implementation of these steps will create a constructive atmosphere to continue the negotiations.

-The issue of bringing Artsakh to the negotiation table has been repeatedly raised. Can Artsakh’s involvement solve any issues in these conditions, considering that one of the main factors, hindering the progress in the negotiation process, is that Azerbaijan refuses to implement the earlier reached agreements aimed at building confidence between the parties and establishing mechanisms for investigating incidents on the Line of Contact?

- Artsakh’s return to the negotiation table proceeds from the logic of the conflict settlement. Being one of the main parties to the conflict recognized by the OSCE documents, Artsakh should be directly involved in the negotiation process. I’d like to remind that the main achievements in the settlement process were recorded during the period when Artsakh was directly involved in the negotiation process. In particular, the 1994 trilateral ceasefire agreement remains the only tangible achievement in the process of peaceful settlement of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict. This document followed about ten bilateral agreements between the top defense leadership of the NKR and Azerbaijan on the limitation of military operations, temporary ceasefire or its prolongation.

Azerbaijan’s refusal to negotiate with Artsakh is one of the components of Baku’s policy of undermining the settlement process. The restoration of trilateral negotiations will demonstrate the political will of the Azerbaijani leadership and its honest interest in reaching the final settlement of the conflict. The return of the Artsakh delegation to the negotiation table will not only restore the disrupted format of the dialogue, but will also increase the effectiveness of the peace process. Artsakh’s full-fledged participation in all the stages of the negotiations is important for the sides in terms of sharing the responsibility for the results of the peace process. The Artsakh authorities continue coming forth for the equal and rightful participation in the process and are ready to de-jure assume their share of responsibility for maintaining regional stability and for the region’s fate in general.

- I would like to touch upon the meeting of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu with the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, which was held on November 29 in Ankara. The Turkish Foreign Minister made a note in his Twitter on supporting the Minsk process. Turkey makes systematic attempts to intervene in the negotiation process. How would you comment on this? Is it realistic?

- The mediation in the negotiation is possible, if the potential mediator has an impartial and neutral attitude towards all the parties to the conflict, and the parties agree to accept its mediation efforts. That’s why Ankara’s attempts to act as a mediator are absolutely unpromising.

It’s known that Turkey has a biased stance and completely supports one of the conflicting parties - Azerbaijan. Turkey is perhaps the only country, which in 2016 publicly supported Azerbaijan’s April aggression against Artsakh, while the entire world and prominent international structures appealed for ceasing the military operations as soon as possible. The only agreed format having an international mandate for mediation activity on the conflict settlement remains the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairmanship represented by the U.S., Russia, and France. 

- For the years of independence, a generation has grown up in Artsakh, which has fully realized its right to self-determination and which seeks to live in an independent country. How do you see the settlement of the conflict in this context, what principles should be dominant, and what fundamental rights should become the basis for resolving the conflict?

- We believe that a lasting settlement of the conflict is possible, if the parties and international mediators take the Artsakh people’s realization of the right to self-determination as the basis for it.

26 years ago, on December 10, a referendum on the independence of Artsakh was held, at which the people of Artsakh determined the path of its own development. The choice to live in an independent state was twice confirmed at the 2006 and 2017 referendums. The independence of Artsakh is an irreversible reality and an exceptional value, which is not subject to bargaining.

- During the discussions on the EU-Artsakh cooperation held in Brussels, you stated that the EU-Artsakh cooperation can play a stabilizing role and become an important contribution to the establishment of lasting peace in the South Caucasus. What is done to encourage this cooperation?

- Cooperation supposes moving towards each other. We have repeatedly voiced our readiness for cooperation with the EU. Within the framework of the visit of the presidential delegation to Brussels, a number of spheres were identified, in which cooperation between Artsakh and the EU can be maximally depoliticized. These spheres, in particular, include the development of civil society institutions and independent journalism, cooperation with the Office of the Human Rights Defender, assistance in improving the judicial, health and education systems. Another promising area of ​​cooperation may be assistance in carrying out local self-government reforms.

In fact, the EU's cooperation with Artsakh will contribute to the strengthening of peace and stability in our region. It will signal the inadmissibility of confrontation and isolation as a means of resolving conflicts, since they are fraught with destabilization of the entire region. In addition, such cooperation will allow to overcome the feeling that political calculations and considerations began to prevail over the idea of promoting democratic values and human rights.

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