Elmar Mammadyarov: "If Armenian leadership can't speak on behalf of separatist regime in Nagorno-Karabakh, what do Armenian armed forces do on Azerbaijani territory?"
On June 20, Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia Elmar Mammadyarov and Zohrab Mnatsakanyan held a meeting in Washington with participation of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs Igor Popov (Russia), Stefan Visconti (France) and Andrew Schäfer (USA), as well as personal representative of the current OSCE chairman Andrzej Kasprzyk. Following these talks, Azerbaijani minister gave an interview to AzerTac.
- Another meeting between you and your Armenian counterpart took place in Washington with participation of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs. What do you think about the results?
- I always say that each meeting within the framework of the ongoing negotiations on the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict settlement should be viewed from the point of view of advancement in this process. Meetings should be held not for the sake of holding them, but for the sake of achieving specific results. Based on this, we've repeatedly stated that we're committed to substantive negotiations. Please note that recent statements of the co-chairs emphasize substantive negotiations. Since it's absolutely obvious that the goal of negotiations is to resolve this protracted conflict, meaningful steps should be taken to achieve desired result, so political will and determination must be demonstrated.
Unfortunately, what I have just said cannot be presented as a result of our meeting in Washington. This meeting could be characterized as a discussion of implementation of the agreements reached during previous rounds of negotiations held in Paris and Moscow. Of course, discussions are always valuable, but I would like to emphasize that without results, necessety of even very productive discussions is questionable. In other words, overall, the meeting in Washington was useful, but it once again showed that at the current stage of negotiations process it's very difficult to achieve resolution of this problem through diplomatic means.
- You noted in your statements and comments published after this meeting that co-chairs brought certain proposals to attention of both parties. What are thos proposals?
- First of all, it should be stated clearly that liberation of the occupied territories of Azerbaijan and return of Azerbaijani internally displaced persons is one of the key elements in all documents discussed so far. It's only logical that since occupation of Azerbaijani territories by Armenian armed forces became the cause of this conflict, and 4 resolutions of the UN Security Council adopted in 1993 require immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of occupying forces from the territories of Azerbaijan, the end result should be elimination of military occupation so that we can talk about peace, security and welfare of the region.
As for proposals of the co-chairs that they presented at Washington meeting, there were some interesting ideas regarding implementation of specific initiatives in humanitarian sphere and in the field of security, reflected in statements from previous meetings, as well as some initiatives that can help to assess situation in the region. But the most important thing is that parties must demonstrate political will towards implementation of these initiatives and implementation of steps aimed at achieving specific result.
- Tension at the front-line zone has increased on the eve of Washington meeting. Armenian armed forces carried out a series of provocations. Baseless statements and actions of Armenian Defense Minister are especially interesting in this context. Your Armenian colleague noted after this meeting that negotiating is especially difficult in the atmosphere of escalation and tension, and also spoke about negative impact of these trends on negotiation process. We would like to know your thoughts on these points.
- Indeed, tension on the contact line was high prior to Washington meeting, and statements made by Armenian Defense Minister exposed intentions of the instigators of this tension. It's also true that provocations on the front line are detrimental to negotiating process and conflict settlement. But I would like to note that I don't agree with the idea that it is impossible to continue discussions against the background of growing tensions at the frontline zone. In this connection, I would like to remind you that whether it was the Madrid principles, their updated version, the Kazan document or the document called the “Lavrov Plan”, negotiation process on the basis of all these proposals didn't calm situation at the front line. But we continued these negotiations, worked on these documents during periods of tension. In other words, artificially tying these two situations to each other is wrong. The most important thing is to demonstrate political will and not tie negotiations to situation at the frontline zone.