Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan refers to the outcome of Vienna-hosted negotiations with Azerbaijan’s President in live Facebook broadcast
I said during the meeting with the Armenian community that I positively assess the Vienna meeting with Azerbaijani’s President. It is extremely important for us to introduce a new culture in the logic of these meetings. First of all, we should not seek to be winners and losers after the meetings, and in my opinion, it is important for the sides to be guided by the logic of accuracy in their comments voiced after a meeting.
In general, I consider it important, and I raised this issue during our meeting, because you know there is such a very simple technical and practical problem. Imagine that leaders of both countries, presumably serious people, meet for two hours, an hour, half an hour, three hours, it does not matter how much they talk about, and after the meeting they voice comments that are diametrically different. You may agree that this is a very serious problem and endangers the whole process seriously. In this regard, it is extremely important for us to be as accurate and correct as possible in our interpretations.
And since the Azerbaijani side has recently made statements that are essentially out of the scope of the Co-Chairs’ and our joint statement, I consider it necessary to make a few clarifications and draw the attention of all of us to the fact that in order to make the negotiations more effective, we must in some ways forget the old and repetitive texts that have proved to be ineffective over time. We must be guided by new approaches in the negotiation process and this is what the Republic of Armenia is proposing today.
I want to address three main issues or, more precisely, one main question. I wish to reaffirm that we went to the Vienna negotiations with the Stepanakert agenda - the agenda we had scheduled on March 12 at the joint sitting of the Security Councils of the Republic of Armenia and Artsakh in Stepanakert. I said that Artsakh’s participation in the negotiation process was very important for us.
And it is important to underscore that I have already said and I am stating now that this is not a demand and expectation of a negotiation format change, nor a whim, nor a precondition. This is just a matter of making the negotiation process more effective.
Now, let us see what is going on. For example, when the Azerbaijani side says that what matters most is that the format of the negotiations should remain unchanged, they are trying to assert that they have triumphed in the present round of negotiations.
First of all, I feel that this is not fairly correct from the perspective of what we have already agreed upon, i.e., not looking for winners and losers, and secondly, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that by highlighting Karabakh’s participation and asking for Karabakh’s engagement, we have not raised the need for a change in the talks format at all. The Minsk Group format is not questioned at all; there is no doubt about it. The question is what this format actually means. Nagorno-Karabakh was a party to the negotiations for a long time and, originally, Karabakh’s participation used to be at the heart of the logic of the Minsk Group-brokered negotiations. In this sense, we do not raise the question of format change.
Now, whether the issue of Karabakh’s involvement was discussed in Vienna? Indeed, we seriously argued that point of view. As to whether the sides came to agreement, I can state that they did not reach an agreement on the matter hand. Is that issue out of the discussion, of course not? This means that we should continue discussing this topic, and it seems to be very important for us to make the negotiations effective.
Besides the arguments made earlier, I want to bring another argument. Look, since 1998 Karabakh has been represented in the negotiation process as we now say that Karabakh has been dropped out of the negotiation process since 1998.
Yes, this is the case, but in 1998-2018 Karabakh was involved in the negotiation process because Armenia was represented in the negotiation process by people might well be considered as Karabakh’s representatives. Anyway, the people of Karabakh could have considered it to be in the negotiation process. Therefore, what is our argument? Our argument is that before 1998 and after 1998, Karabakh was present at the negotiation process and now, due to the well-known fact that I was not born in Karabakh and was not one of the leaders of Karabakh at any stage of my biography, it turns out that Karabakh is now out of the negotiation process. I just want to say that, of course, this point of the agenda has been documented and discussed in Vienna.
The next point has to do with my statement that as a newcomer in the negotiation process, I need some explanations on the Madrid Principles. Is this issue raised? Of course, it was raised during the discussion with Azerbaijan’s President as attended by the Co-Chairs?
Can we say that we have already received the answers to our queries? No, because they are very extensive and, unfortunately, it was impossible to get all the answers during a discussion.
And what does this actually mean? It means that it should be discussed later, and we have delegated our foreign affairs to discuss these issues, and, of course, we should continue the discussion with the Co-Chairs.
The third issue is to prepare populations for peace. Whether that question and the set of the aforementioned arguments were discussed during the Vienna meeting? Of course, they were discussed to full extent? And in this context, we have made some arrangement in the humanitarian sphere in order to implement a number of measures that might create more favorable conditions in the run-up to the peace accord by providing a positive background for the negotiation process.
I would like to underscore that it was very important in this context that not only did the text of the joint statement refer to the agreements reached in Dushanbe, but it also stipulated the ceasefire regime should be maintained and strengthened.
Does this mean that we have done everything regarding this topic? Not, of course, but it means that the sides’ commitment to strengthening the ceasefire regime has been reaffirmed, and if necessary, we will be able to discuss in more detail the steps to take ahead, or how to bring the current situation closer to the ceasefire regime.
In general, I want to say that I can see some old inertia in Azerbaijani’s statements on the negotiation process, which do not absolutely reflect the new atmosphere we have in the negotiations.
I think we have a new atmosphere and a new situation in the negotiations. We have new strings in the ongoing process, we have new prospects and we have a new understanding of the talks. Therefore, it is unclear to me why the Azerbaijani side should avoid or fear stating the truth. Please note that these new facts do not imply at all the victory of any of the sides or the defeat of anybody.
If Karabakh comes to be involved in the negotiation process, will it mean the defeat of the Azerbaijani side? Certainly not, because no negotiation can be effective and bring about a settlement, if any party to the conflict or, in general, any important stakeholder is left out of the negotiation process. And, again, I mean that this is not a precondition or a whim.
In general, as I said in Stepanakert, it reflects our respect for all the participants in the negotiation process because we want our statements and our deeds to match 100%, if we are to resolve the Karabakh issue, if we want to reach a peaceful settlement, and we do want to do so! One of the most important conditions on the way to reaching a peaceful settlement is to take all the necessary steps to this end and, as a matter of fact, Stepanakert’s agenda is about it.
I saw the need for this comment, when I got acquainted with a number of comments made by our counterparts in Azerbaijan which, again, I do not want to comment on these comments, I just want all of us to stay on the margins of those arrangements made during our meetings, and this framework is actually outlined in their joint statements by the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs and our Foreign Ministers.