Foreign Minister Elmar Mammadyarov's interview to "Miramax"

- Mr. Minister! First of all, let me thank you for the readiness to answer our questions. Some foreign experts state that the level of trust between the Presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan has seriously declined. Do you agree to such an assessment? If yes, what is the reason? 

- You know, it is probably difficult to say what level of confidence there is between the sides, when they, unfortunately, are in a state of unannounced war. The fact of occupation of Azerbaijani territories by Armenia, given realization of total ethnic cleansings on the given lands, of course, cannot contribute to increase in the level of trust. The reason, as they say, is obvious.

- British expert Thomas de Waal believes that Armenian and Azerbaijani Presidents are in a “trap”, which they have created for themselves. “They have so often promised their peoples victory in Karabakh issue and so often used Karabakh card as a tool for their own legitimization that now, even if one of the sides wants to sign a normal reasonable agreement with the other one, this is almost impossible because of internal political motives”, Thomas de Waal said in an interview to our agency. How would you comment on such an interpretation?

- First of all, as it is known, foreign policy is the continuation of the internal one. The stronger the state is economically, the stronger is its foreign policy. This is why it is not very correct to speak of internal political motives in terms of Azerbaijan. Secondly, I should stress that the settlement of Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict is built on norms and principles of the international law and the decisions and documents, approved in those frames, as it is mentioned in Meiendorf Declaration, signed by the Presidents of Azerbaijan, Armenia and the Russian Federation on November 2, 2008. The importance to be based on international law in the settlement of the conflict is what creates the possibility to avoid internal political motives, since both Azerbaijan and Armenia, becoming members of international organizations, have taken upon themselves the corresponding commitments, which should be fulfilled. The occupation of territories of another state and ethnic cleansings on those territories are not included in those commitments.

- Mr. Minister, why don’t Azerbaijani authorities stop the anti-Armenian rhetoric? This cannot but hinder the search of compromise. What are the results of the public statements, according to which the majority of our country’s territory “was gifted to Armenia by Azerbaijan”, or that Yerevan is the Azerbaijani “Irevan” city? What is the reason that you do not renounce such statements and comment on purely the negotiation process?  

- Well, actually, for the sake of justice it should be noted that Anti-rhetoric is used not only by the Azerbaijani side. Look up for the reason, so to say, in my answer to your first question. Believe me, the withdrawal of Armenian troops from Azerbaijani territories will create a completely different situation in the region. We will be able to speak, at least, of predictability of situation development, opening of communications, reestablishment of lost confidence. 

- In the beginning of 2010, Azerbaijani President stated that the Armenian side had violated the agreements, reached earlier, demanding to assign the date for holding the referendum/voting concerning the status of Nagorno-Karabakh? Don’t you think that this very “don’t ask, don’t tell” approach, when each of the sides interprets the details of the referendum/voting their own way, is one of the most important stumbling blocks in the negotiation process? And why isn’t Baku comfortable with the definition and assignment of clear substantial and time parameters of the referendum/voting?

- Timeframes for voting will complicate the situation. It is necessary to carry out huge preparation works, break the ice in interrelations, reestablish confidence, return the population, and create conditions for their safe habitation together. One should not hold voting at gun point and under pressure. Any hurry in order to preserve timeframes in such sensitive and fragile issues can aggravate the situation even more and make all the efforts on peaceful settlement null and void.

- On January 14, your Armenian counterpart stated that Armenia takes 3 principles and 6 elements of Karabakh conflict settlement, presented by the mediators, as a basis for the negotiations. “Azerbaijan states that it accepts only the principle of territorial integrity and the element of return of territories. Azerbaijan should get determined and give an exact answer on whether it accepts all principles and elements or it does not”, Edward Nalbandian stated. What will be your response to the Armenian counterpart?  

- This is a pleasant fact and I think that this can open a chance for working over the detailed Peace Agreement, and the work over that Agreement should be fit into timeframes, so that there is no temptation to carry out negotiations forever without changing the situation on the ground. By the way, all 3 principles and 6 elements were the basis of the updated Madrid document, officially presented to Armenia and Azerbaijan in Athens in 2009 during the OSCE Foreign Ministers’ Council. Unfortunately, we lost more than a year, although on March 5, at the meeting of the Presidents in Sochi, one could observe certain positive trends to advance towards the work over the detailed Peace Agreement.

- Why doesn’t Azerbaijan agree to the proposal of OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairs to withdraw snipers from the contact line? This would help preserve the lives of dozens of Armenians and Azeris!

- Unfortunately, one should admit that today we have the reality of occupation of about 20% of the Azerbaijani territories by Armenian Armed Forces and as a result a contact line, where from both sides the military are placed with weapons in their hands. This conflict is not frozen and there is real threat of use of weapon every hour, every minute. This is also proved by the fact of a nine-year-old Azerbaijani boy’s killing, who is far, as to his age, from being suspected of being a military. How can one shoot at children? This is sacrilege. In order to liquidate such danger and in order to preserve the life of people, Armenia is the one to withdraw its troops from occupied Azerbaijani territories, thus liquidating the very reason of possible use of force. Armenia, by withdrawing the troops from occupied territories, can itself eliminate the reasons, which create a basis for possible escalation of the situation, that is, liquidate the threat of use of force. Only in that case it will be possible to achieve a stable, durable peace in the region.

Source: Miramax

back news prev news