In his December 25 interview, the Azerbaijani Foreign Minister made some loud statements regarding the process of peaceful settlement of the Azerbaijan-Karabakh conflict. What is the position of Artsakh regarding the assertions by the Azerbaijani side?
First of all, it should be noted that the authorities of Artsakh have, on numerous occasions, publicly stated their principled position on the settlement of the Azerbaijan-Karabakh conflict as a whole. In the outgoing year alone, about ten Memoranda of the Foreign Ministry of Artsakh and other documents regarding various aspects of the conflict between Artsakh and Azerbaijan were distributed as official documents in the UN, OSCE, Council of Europe and other international structures. On October 30, 2018, the position of the Artsakh side was reaffirmed at the meetings with the Co-Chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group in Stepanakert and in my recent interview to the Republican newspaper Azat Artsakh. We believe that the outdated approaches to the settlement of the Azerbaijan-Karabakh conflict should be revised. It is necessary to restore the trilateral format of negotiations with the direct and full-fledged participation of the Republic of Artsakh. The basis for the conflict settlement should be the right of the people of Artsakh to a free and safe life in their homeland. Since this interstate conflict is not a territorial dispute, the search for ways of resolving the problem based on territorial concessions is hopeless and does not reflect the essence of the conflict.
As to the statements by the Azerbaijani authorities, in their inherent manner they reflect wishful thinking rather than the reality. The logic of the peace process, its evolution, as well as the statements by the Co-Chairs and the heads of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chair states regarding the decisive role of the people of Artsakh in determining its political status, indicate that international actors will eventually recognize the fact of formation of two independent states in the territory of the former Azerbaijani SSR - the Republic of Artsakh and the Azerbaijani Republic.
How would you comment on the assertions that Azerbaijan is ready, in accordance with its international obligations, to ensure security guarantees to the people of Artsakh and the right to high-level self-governence within the internationally recognized borders of the Azerbaijani Republic?
Such statements by the Azerbaijani side can only be viewed as a manifestation of cynicism. The aggressor-state, which, after gaining its independence, made two unsuccessful for itself attempts of armed seizure and destruction of Artsakh, has neither moral, nor any other right to offer us security guarantees. The Republic of Artsakh, as an important military-political factor in the region, has long been a security provider and has been de facto contributing to the maintenance of regional stability.
Showing an open disregard for their international obligations, the Azerbaijani authorities regularly threaten the regional peace and security, carry out a state policy on disseminating xenophobia and hatred towards Armenians in the Azerbaijani society, seek to isolate Artsakh in every possible way, thus violating the fundamental rights of its population, including the right to development. Azerbaijan, in breach of its international obligations, is arming uncontrollably, as a result of which it significantly exceeds the maximum permissible levels under the CFE Treaty on a number of indicators.
These facts speak for themselves and demonstrate the real price of the pseudo-peaceful statements by the Azerbaijani side. If the Azerbaijani authorities took their international obligations seriously, they would grant self-governence to the indigenous peoples of today's Azerbaijan to preserve their national identity and respect for their cultural and political rights.
The people of Artsakh chose its path to freedom thirty years ago and, from the legal point of view, impeccably exercised its right to self-determination. For the past three decades, the citizens of Artsakh have directly or indirectly reaffirmed their unequivocal will, about fifteen times participating in referendums or nationwide elections.
The Azerbaijani Foreign Minister stated about meetings allegedly taken place previously between the so-called Azerbaijani community of Nagorno Karabakh and representatives of Artsakh, which were halted due to the position of the former Armenian authorities. How would you comment on this statement?
The statement by the Azerbaijani side has nothing to do with the reality. First, representatives of Artsakh have never participated in bilateral meetings in the so-called “Intercommunity format”. In fact, within the framework of civil peace initiatives, trilateral meetings of representatives of the civil societies of Artsakh, Armenia and Azerbaijan took place. Occasionally, events were held with the participation of NGO representatives from Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Georgia. Representatives of the non-governmental organization of Azerbaijani refugees from Nagorno Karabakh could have participated in these meetings from the Azerbaijani side representing the civil sector of that country.
Secondly, civil peacebuilding initiatives sharply declined after the Azerbaijani authorities had launched a real “witches hunt” by arresting a number of leading Azerbaijani human rights activists and journalists on charges of spying for Armenia, who were involved in various peacebuilding initiatives on creating an atmosphere of confidence between the societies of the conflicting parties.
I believe that no party should create obstacles, if representatives of public organizations of refugees from Artsakh, Azerbaijan and Armenia decide to discuss their problems within the framework of Track II diplomacy. This category of people is united by one thing - in fact, they have become victims of the Azerbaijani armed aggression against the sovereign NKR.
What is the position of the Artsakh side on Azerbaijan’s assertions that the settlement of the Azerbaijan-Karabakh conflict is based on the UN Security Council resolutions on Nagorno Karabakh?
The attempts of the Azerbaijani side to present the UN Security Council resolutions as the basis for resolving the Azerbaijan-Karabakh conflict are devoid of any legal grounds. All the four resolutions of the UN Security Council were adopted during the active hostilities, which determined their main requirement - immediate ceasefire, cessation of all hostilities and hostile acts. The resolutions of the UN Security Council were not implemented due to the position of Azerbaijan, which flatly refused to guarantee peace and bind itself with the obligations to cease the hostilities. Instead, it sought to use the resolutions as a means for gaining military advantage. With all their actions, the Azerbaijani authorities demonstrated that they did not consider as binding the appeals and requirements of the UN Security Council resolutions addressed to them, including the most important one regarding the cessation of all hostilities and hostile acts.
The UN Security Council did not consider the issue of political settlement of the Azerbaijan-Karabakh conflict, instead expressing its full support for the efforts to seek a peaceful resolution of the Azerbaijan-Karabakh conflict within the framework of the CSCE (now OSCE) Minsk process.
Moreover, the interpretation of the text of the resolutions and the subsequent practice by the UN Security Council, including its three permanent members - the United States, Russia and France, as well as Azerbaijan itself, indicate the recommendatory nature of the resolutions.