I think we sustain the dynamics of our meetings. This is what Minister of Foreign Affairs of Armenia Zohrab Mnatsakanyan said as he talked about his meeting with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Azerbaijan Elmar Mammadyarov during a briefing with journalists.
Question: What did you discuss today, what are the main priorities?
Answer: Well you know, I think we sustain the dynamics of our meetings. One very important aspect we have to deal with is that we sustain the very important environment, which allows us to move on with all the issues, the progress of the peaceful resolution of this conflict. And you know alternative to the peaceful resolution of the conflict. I think there are some developments in these past weeks, past month, that have been influencing the process and I think we have to look at it in a careful way and see the ways in which we can be faithful to the agreements and understandings that we have been working on over the previous months, and this has been a very important part of our talks today. And the political will to move on with the progress and the sustainability of the environment which provides the right background in which the peace process is taking place, are very important priorities. And of course we have been focusing on this with the Co-Chairs and my colleague, Foreign Minister of Azerbaijan.
Question: Mr. Minister they said that some documents have been circulated...
Answer: There are documents that exist, that existed, but the documents are not the issue. Here the issue is in what principles we are approaching, because in principle, today it is necessary to focus primarily on the environment that ensures the progress of the process. As for our principled approaches, they are known to everyone, they have been expressed by Armenia on different occasions. And it is in that context, that we, in all cases, consider all the different options to see to which extent our priorities, our primary interests are being expressed. Of course, we had quite a long discussion and we need time to, so to say, study, analyze, evaluate this phase. We plan to continue this discussion process. It will be announced when we will have an agreement on what we are doing in the next phase, when this happens. The Co-Chairs also have work to do on their part.
In this regard, now we need to carefully analyze how we can maintain that dynamics, which enables to have political will and to move towards a peaceful settlement.
Question: The question is that since 25 years after the conflict, what has changed in terms of the negotiations process. I am talking like since 1994 until 2019. In terms of substantial conversations what has changed?
Answer: You are asking me a question that would require a very long analytical research. And given that we have spent a few hours with my colleague and the Co-Chairs on some very important talks, engaging in such analytical research is not exactly what I am up to at the moment. But I think it is very important to understand the absolute priorities for Armenia and Nagorno Karabakh. The absolute priority of the security of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh from which stems the question of status very much defines the way in which we look at this question. Of course, one has to understand that the whole peaceful resolution means compromise and compromise means a two-way street. So I think I have to be very sensitive about the way in which we perceive our absolute security concerns. And also we have to consider the concerns of the other side. So, within this careful approach and political will, I think we are prepared and want to move on.
Question: Mr. Minister negotiation have been going during the escalation of the conflict…
Answer: That is what I was saying all this time. Of course, this has had a very bad effect, because negotiating in a condition when there are elements of escalation and risks to disrupt this process, they have very bad effect of course, you cannot avoid them.
But here for the Foreign Ministers with the Co-Chairs it is also very important today to find a way in which we can work towards sustaining the environment that has been a result of the conversation, of the agreement, understandings, reached at the level of our leaders. I think it is a very important challenge to sustain those agreements, those understandings that set environment within which the peace process is taking place.
Question: Are there any concrete agreements about future...?
Answer: We have some agreements. We have agreements that need to be implemented and I think we have been reaffirming this concerning journalists, concerning the detainees, concerning the strengthening of the ceasefire regime, sustainability of the ceasefire regime, sustainability of an environment that reduces the risks of escalation. These have various specific steps to take and I think we need to work and bring this to fruition.
Question: Is there any change in the position of Armenia, about including Nagorno Karabakh ..
Answer: Well, look, there is no change, there could not be any change and I have to be understood very clearly, the Armenian position is based on a very practical side, very practical approach, that Nagorno-Karabakh is a stakeholder, is a subject of all this, and they have to have the respective sense of ownership, if we are very serious about delivering a progress in the negotiating process. So in that I think we have been very clear in our approaches we are trying to underline that this is specifically a practical question of a political will to provide practical progress in the negotiations. The subject to these negotiations, Nagorno-Karabakh, the stakeholder in this negotiations, Nagorno-Karabakh, has to have a direct sense of ownership. So that has been part of the conversation, of course, we have to bear that in mind. But as I am saying the very important thing is that all these issues are interrelated and we have to treat it carefully in a way that we move forward.
Question: You’re very optimistic about negotiations today?
Answer: Well, I am very careful about all those judgements, about optimism and pessimism, but I think it’s a responsibility, you know, because these talks have very direct implications on lives of people. And when you think in these terms you have to understand that whatever you do has to serve the purpose of peace. It is good for our region, it is good for Azerbaijan, it is good for Armenia, it is good for Nagorno-Karabakh, it is good for the entire region.
But it has to be in a way that each of the parties feels that there is a parity of commitment, there is a solution which each of the parties, on the basis of compromise, feels that it serves the national interests, the national concern, the concern of each side, that it delivers on those concerns, that it finds a way in which this parity of commitments provides that necessary balance. That’s the essence of compromise.
Question: Mammadyarov said that the next meeting will not be late...
Answer: Yes, I can confirm that at least we had an agreement that we need to work in that direction, and we will finalize the agreement about the next meeting. We have just finished the meeting and you realize that even today's conversation is the first, so-called reflection of how we see the outcome of these negotiations. We are, obviously, ready to continue, and we are ready to announce the next point when we have an agreement on that, but we will also reaffirm that it will not wait long. But at the same time it is essential that we can reaffirm the commitments related to the relevant environment and the strengthening of the ceasefire, and to the relevant mechanisms that are part of such an environment.
Question: My question is, you mentioned about Armenian population of Nagorno Karabakh, how about Azerbaijani IDPs at seven surrounding districts? Was that a part of …
Answer: I have been talking about the priorities for Armenia. And, obviously, the issues that are priorities for the other party are there, and as I’m saying there is a …
Question: So what is the position?...
Answer: The solution is a commitment. You don’t expect me to go on to elaborate discussion and analyses of all these issues right now right after these talks, this was not exactly what we are dealing with now. But as I am saying we have our priorities and we talk about our priorities, but you also remember when the Prime Minister was talking about the way in which to build peace is the way in which to find solutions to the various issues that concern all the parties. And I would want to remind also that the PM of Armenia has said this before, and we have reiterated this, that whatever the solution will be achieved, it has to be acceptable to the people of Armenia, Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan.
For the moment as I am saying the very concerning developments, the ceasefire violations which claim lives are important challenges that we have to deal with, we have to address them, and we have to reduce those risks of escalation in that we can sustain a conducive environment for peace.
So we had this conversation today and there we have a good report with the co-chairs, with my colleague within that spirit.
Question: Last question about the meeting with the National Security Advisor Bolton, any comments.
Answer: Well, we had a very intensive, very engaging, very productive dialogue with Ambassador Bolton. And we had the opportunity to cover a wide range of issues of which of course the regional security and the peaceful resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict were very important part of our conversation. The US is, after all, one of the three co-chairs and a very important stakeholder in this, as a Co-Chair, together with Russia and France. We have very important issues of regional stability and the dynamics, of course, we need this dialogue, this conversation to carry on. The US is a very important partner for Armenia. We have a very rich bilateral agenda. And we have been taking stock of this bilateral agenda. So, in every way, this was a very important conversation with Armenia’s important partner, the United States, on a wide range of issues. And I was saying it was a very productive, very engaging dialogue, conversation, discussion with Ambassador Bolton.