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Azerbaijan does everything to keep the status quo intact, at the same time claiming that, allegedly, it is advocating for the change of status quo.

Foreign Minister of Armenia Edward Nalbandian on Thursday stated the above-said in his address at the 24th meeting of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Ministerial Council, in Vienna.

Reflecting on the matter of settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh (Artsakh) conflict, Nalbandian stated as follows, in particular:

“Ten years ago the Basic Principles for the Peaceful Settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict were presented to the sides by the Minsk Group Co-Chair countries in the margins of the OSCE Ministerial Council in Madrid.

“Two years later the Athens Ministerial Council of the OSCE adopted a statement on behalf of all participating States that strongly supported the Basic Principles and noted the commitment of the parties to reach an agreement on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution based upon the principles of Non-Use of Force or Threat of Force, Territorial Integrity, and the Equal Rights and Self-Determination of Peoples. The presidents of the Co-Chair countries in their five joint statements issued since 2009 reiterated their support to these principles and main elements for the conflict resolution which were presented by them as an integrated whole. Since then the Co-Chairs have reaffirmed this approach on many occasions, including during almost all OSCE Ministerial Councils and most recently in their joint statement made in Hamburg. On numerous occasions Armenia has continuously reiterated its readiness to continue negotiations based on these principles and elements with the aim of the exclusively peaceful settlement of the conflict.

“There are several reasons why till now it has not been possible to advance the peace process despite numerous meetings on the presidential and ministerial levels, many rounds of negotiations, the tireless mediation by the Co-Chair countries, and the strong endorsement of the OSCE and all others who have supported the efforts and approaches of the Co-Chairs.

“First, Azerbaijan made a step back and has refused the abovementioned three principles of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution as a basis for the conflict settlement.

“Second, Azerbaijan adopted a selective approach towards the elements proposed by the Co-Chairs, who have continuously warned against such practice, since they conceive their proposals as an indivisible whole, and made it clear that any attempt to select some principles and elements over others would make it impossible to achieve a solution.

“Third, Baku does not comply with the reached agreements and backtracks from them, as it happened during many rounds of negotiations, most notably during the Summits in St. Petersburg (June 2010), “Astrakhan (October 2010), Sochi (March 2011), Kazan (June 2011). The pattern of refusal by Azerbaijan to honor prior agreements seriously questions Baku’s credibility as a negotiating party.

“Fourth, almost constant profanation of the Co-Chairs’ efforts and the attempts to shift the mediation to other formats have been illustrative of Azerbaijan’s intentions to derail the negotiations. It does not come as a surprise that the Co-Chairs in their public statements called on Baku to reverse this stance.

“Fifth, the use or threat of use of force by Azerbaijan, regular ceasefire violations and provocations, unnotified military exercises in a blatant noncompliance to the OSCE Vienna document, bellicose statements of the high-ranking officials of Azerbaijan demonstrate that Baku considers the war as a viable option. The Co-Chairs have appealed to Azerbaijan to refrain from the escalation of the situation, to reaffirm the commitment to peaceful settlement. Nobody doubts that it is Azerbaijan that constantly violates the ceasefire and resorts to the escalation of the situation.

“Sixth, a serious damage was caused to the negotiation process by Azerbaijan’s aggression against Nagorno-Karabakh in April 2016 that was accompanied by the grave violations of international humanitarian law, atrocities against the civilian population, including children, women and elderly persons, mutilation of the bodies, DAESH-style beheadings.

“Seventh, after April aggression the Co-Chairs organized two summits in Vienna and St. Petersburg with the participation of the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan to address the consequences of the war. Azerbaijan refused to implement what had been agreed upon and emphasized in the framework of these Summits particularly on the exclusively peaceful settlement of the conflict, full adherence to the 1994-1995 trilateral ceasefire agreements, which do not have time limitations, creation of mechanism for the investigation of ceasefire violations, expansion of the team of the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairperson-in-Office with the aim to increase efficiency of the monitoring capacities on the ground. The reported goal of these agreements was to create conditions for the advancement of the peace process, thus, by rejecting them Baku intentionally hinders the negotiations.

“Eighth, Azerbaijan continues to practice anti-Armenian hate speech, it calls all Armenians of the world its enemy number one, it writes in the textbooks that Armenians are genetic enemies of Azerbaijan, it erases all traces of indigenous Armenian cultural heritage and religious sites, it claims that allegedly territories of Armenia are ancient Azerbaijani lands. Azerbaijan has long blacklisted the people of Nagorno-Karabakh, and then it started to put in the blacklist all those who visit Nagorno-Karabakh. Those who genuinely aspire for peace do not do such actions.

“Ninth, after many years of negotiations on the Basic Principles, Azerbaijan started to claim that there is no need for adopting them, in a sheer disrespect to other negotiating parties, to the Co-Chair countries and huge efforts and time invested in the process.

“Azerbaijan’s uncompromising and maximalist stance has become a serious obstacle to the advancement of the peace process and has heavily contributed to the preservation of the status-quo. The Co-Chairs’ conflict settlement proposals are a way that could bring to the change of the status-quo. However, Azerbaijan rejects those proposals, doing everything to keep the status-quo intact at the same time claiming that allegedly it is advocating for the change of status-quo.

“Mr. Chairman,

“Next year people of Nagorno-Karabakh will mark 30 years of their struggle for the right to choose their destiny, for human dignity and freedom. In three decades people of Artsakh despite the devastating war and all difficulties, succeeded to create a society based on the respect of human rights, fundamental freedoms and democratic institutions. The settlement of the conflict should respect all inherent rights of the people of Artsakh and should ensure their unhindered implementation.”

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