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Territorial concession means destruction of Artsakh and Armenia security: Masis Mailyan

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Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Artsakh Republic Masis Mayilyan answered the questions of the REGNUM Editor-in-Chief Modest Kolerov.

- Honorable Mr. Minister, Masis Samvelovich, after the change of power in Yerevan, consultations between Armenia and Azerbaijan on the Karabakh settlement intensified dramatically (we say “consultations” because the genuine negotiations, when Nagorno Karabakh participated in them, stopped in 1997). How can you explain the intensification of these consultations?

- In regard to the new government that came to power in Armenia, maintaining the dynamics of meetings and consultations was of some importance both for the Armenian side and for the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, including from the point of view of demonstrating adherence to the agreed mediation format. The certain intensification of meetings between Yerevan and Baku is due to the desire of the parties to familiarize themselves with each other’s approaches regarding the peaceful settlement of the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict.

With the mediation of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, meetings were held at the level of foreign ministers. Communication at the highest level took place without the participation of intermediaries on the margins of various international forums and was informal. As is known, it is planned to hold the first meeting of the Prime Minister of Armenia and the President of Azerbaijan, mediated by the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group.

I believe that artificially intensifying consultations a priori cannot be fruitful. Apparently, the parties also have this understanding. For example, in February, the Foreign Ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan took part in the Munich Security Conference, but did not plan to hold a new meeting at this forum.

- The Prime Minister of Armenia stated the need to involve NKR in negotiations with Azerbaijan. How exactly do you see the procedure and the subject of NKR participation in the negotiations?

- First of all, it should be noted that in the matter of restoring the trilateral format of negotiations, Yerevan and Stepanakert adhere to the same approaches. At the same time, speaking of the return of the Republic of Artsakh to the negotiating table, we proceed from the need to achieve real progress in the process of resolving the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict. There are all the necessary prerequisites for the restoration of tripartite negotiations.

First, after a rather lengthy discussion on the format of the negotiations, already in 1993 in the CSCE / OSCE we came to an understanding of the need for the participation of Nagorno-Karabakh as a third party at all stages of the peace process. Subsequently, this thesis was reflected in the Prague Summary by the OSCE Chairman-in-Office on March 31, 1995. The tripartite format itself was consolidated earlier by the decision of the OSCE Budapest Summit in 1994, based on consensus.

Secondly, as time has shown, the trilateral format was the most efficient and effective. It was in this format that the only tangible result was achieved in the settlement process - the trilateral agreement on a cease-fire and all hostilities of May 12, 1994, concluded with the mediation of the Russian Federation.

The formula for the success of the trilateral negotiation format is quite simple: each of the parties directly represented their interests and discussed the issues that were within its competence.

The procedure for the participation of the Artsakh Republic in negotiations can be based on this formula. As the Prime Minister of Armenia Nikol Pashinyan has repeatedly stated, Yerevan does not intend to set Stepanakert’s participation in the negotiation process as a precondition, but at the same time will conduct negotiations only on his own behalf. This means that issues falling within the exclusive competence and powers of the authorities of the Artsakh Republic cannot be discussed in a Yerevan-Baku bilateral format. Such an approach is objective and, in our opinion, can serve as one of the mechanisms for the return of Artsakh to the negotiating table.

- Overwhelming majority of the projects for the settlement of the Karabakh conflict propose a reduction of the NKR territory to the territory of the NKAO. What do you think about these ideas?

- Since the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict is not a territorial dispute, the search for possible ways to solve the problem on the basis of territorial concessions is hopeless and does not reflect the essence of the conflict.

The fact that in 1988, when a new phase of the conflict began, the territory around the former NKAO, even one of the administrative districts of the autonomous region, was under the control of Baku, indicates that this conflict is not a territorial dispute. That is, despite the fact that these territories were controlled by the Azerbaijani side, however, the conflict happened. Therefore, it is illogical to believe that with the territorial concessions of Artsakh, a settlement of the conflict can be achieved. It should also be borne in mind that such proposals directly affect the issue of security, which is one of the “red lines” in the process of resolving the conflict with Azerbaijan for Artsakh.

The concession of territories is a direct way to the destruction of the security system not only of Artsakh, but also of the Republic of Armenia, since it will threaten the very existence of the indigenous population in their historic homeland. In other words, for us, this question has an existential meaning. From the statements of the head of Azerbaijan, it follows that the strategic goal of official Baku is to capture not only Artsakh, but also the Syunik region of Armenia and even the capital of Armenia, Yerevan. We should take seriously the statements of the President and the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan and not facilitate his way to his strategic goal. On the contrary, it is necessary to continue to take the necessary military and political-diplomatic measures to curb the aggressive and expansionist intentions of the leadership of the neighboring country.

Let me remind you that the leadership of the Artsakh Republic has repeatedly stated the impossibility and inadmissibility of returning to the past both in the issue of status and in the issue of territories.

In addition, on July 17, 2009, after the mediators' approaches to resolving the Azerbaijani-Karabakh conflict were made public, the Artsakh Republic Foreign Ministry issued a statement on the need to restart the distorted negotiation process, return the official Stepanakert to the negotiating table as a full party and transform the basic principles settlement. This position of the Artsakh Republic remains unchanged.

It should also be noted that in the aforementioned statement, the Artsakh Foreign Ministry stressed that attempts to bring Artsakh back to the past are not only counterproductive, but also fraught with a new escalation of the conflict.

- Election campaign for the election of the NKR President will begin in summer in Artsakh. It is already known that Arayik Harutyunyan, Vitaly Balasanyan and Samvel Babayan are ready to take part in them. In the past, you personally took part in the presidential elections in NKR and showed a solid result. Are you ready to take part in the elections this time and what will your decision depend on?

- During the press conference on the foreign policy results of 2018, answering a similar question from the head of the Russian edition of the Public TV and Radio Company of the Artsakh Republic, I said that now it is premature to talk about plans for the elections to be held next year. We should effectively use this time to implement the tasks set for the Foreign Ministry by the leadership of the country, and, in general, to implement the provisions of President Bako Sahakyan’s program for 2017–2020. Only in this way can we ensure the continuous, consistent and sustainable development of the Artsakh Republic.

Source: IA REGNUM

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