Q. In his interview to Agencia EFE, a Spanish news agency, Armenian President Serzh Sargsyan laid down a precondition for beginning substantive talks and pointed out that it’s necessary to create a mechanism for investigating incidents. Is it not Armenia’s boycotting the talks?
A. The fact that the Armenian president has laid a precondition for beginning substantive negotiations over the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is nothing more than a deliberate disruption of talks, a boycott and blackmail. It’s absolutely unacceptable to lay a precondition for beginning substantive talks and, in general, it is in sharp contrast to all the basic documents on the settlement of the conflict. Since June 2016, Armenia has been evading all meetings. Armenia’s foreign minister limited his participation in Hamburg and Munich meetings to a dinner hosted by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs in honor of the two countries’ ministers.
The essence of the issues discussed at the Vienna and Saint Petersburg meetings of the presidents is that the creation of a mechanism for investigating incidents, the solution of humanitarian issues and the conduct of substantive negotiations should be implemented in a parallel and synchronized way. As the main element of substantive negotiations, the status quo should be changed and the gradual withdrawal of Armenian troops from the occupied Azerbaijani territories should be ensured. As part of this process, a mechanism for investigating incidents can also be considered.
The latest statements made by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs, as well as the UN Secretary General’s statement on February 27th 2017 called for beginning substantive talks aimed at finding a peaceful solution to the conflict. Armenia not only refuses to consent to this and even goes on to lay a precondition at the level of president, undermines the peace process and is engaged in blackmail.
Q. What is the aim of Armenia in avoiding substantive negotiations?
A. Armenia’s refusal of substantive talks is accompanied with constant political and military provocations, military adventures and bellicose statements by Armenia’s military and political leadership, pre-election manipulation of the domestic political environment, strengthening of its military capabilities and conduct of military exercises in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan and attempts to change the demographic situation in those territories. All this clearly shows that Armenia is pursuing a policy of annexing the occupied Azerbaijani territories and is trying to maintain and strengthen the occupation. Armenia, by bringing up a technical issue like investigation of incidents and making substantive negotiations ‘a hostage of this technical issue, pursues a dangerous goal – to maintain the status quo. The co-chair countries and the international community must take effective and serious actions against Armenia in order to prevent the failure of proposals on the settlement of the conflict and the peace process as a whole. Substantive negotiations that provide a comprehensive resolution of the conflict must be started immediately in order not to allow Armenia to again draw the region into war and military adventure. Azerbaijan has repeatedly stated its readiness for substantive talks.