Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the outset, I would like to congratulate H.E. Mr. Sebastian Kurz, the Chairperson-in-Office of the OSCE for excellent organization of the 24th Meeting of the OSCE Ministerial Council. I also wish every success to our distinguished colleague H.E. Mr. Angelino Alfano of Italy as the incoming OSCE Chairperson-in-Office.
Yesterday, I and Foreign Minister of Armenia had all together with the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs hours of talks on Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict resolution.
This reinvigoration of substantive, result-oriented talks is a reason for cautious optimism. The summit of the Presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia, held in Geneva, on 16 October 2017, was the step in right direction. The meeting proved that attempts to precondition the resumption of substantive talks are doomed to failure. Following the Summit meeting, Azerbaijan and Co-Chairs are focusing on substantial issues with a view to finding the ways of bringing positions of Armenia and Azerbaijan closer towards the settlement.
However, it remains to be source of serious concern that certain forces in the region are not interested in taking necessary political steps to move beyond the unsustainable and unacceptable status-quo. Yerevan continues its unlawful practice of altering the demographic, cultural and physical character in the occupied territories of Azerbaijan demonstrates its systematic policy aimed at consolidating the occupation and imposing a fait accompli. Opening of a church in the occupied Jabrayil district, which was solely populated by ethnic Azerbaijanis before its occupation in 1993, is yet another manifestation of Armenia’s gross disrespect for international humanitarian law. In parallel of its provocative actions on the ground, Armenia rejects our initiative to dispatch needs-assessment mission to the occupied territories comprising of relevant international institutions.
Such steps by Armenia, including armed provocations along the Line of Contact, as well as the recent illegal military exercises held by Armenia in the occupied territories undermine the peace efforts, and shall be comprehensively addressed by the OSCE Minsk Group and its Co-Chairmen. OSCE participating States should implement their commitments under international humanitarian law and human rights instruments to prevent and reverse illegal economic and other activities of their natural and legal persons, wherever located.
Relevant UN Security Council resolutions, principles of the Helsinki Final Act and decisions and documents of OSCE form the basis for conflict resolution and for mandate of the Co-Chairmen of the Minsk Conference. The UNSC resolutions of 1993 demanded immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of occupying forces from all the occupied territories of Azerbaijan and, as a reciprocal step called for opening up communications and transportation links and urged assisting the return of internally displaced persons to their homes. The underlying concept of this approach is based on removing consequences of the conflict, while deferring remaining political issues for future negotiations within the Minsk Conference.
If Armenia is genuinely interested in seeking a political solution to the conflict, then it must engage constructively in the conflict settlement process.
The months ahead will demonstrate if Armenia is a serious partner for peace, genuinely interested in engaging constructively in substantive negotiations to reach a breakthrough and resolve the conflict or we will continue down the road of further instability and conflict. Azerbaijan retains its right act under the Chapter 7 of the UN Charter.
In conclusion, as it was stated today by a number of speakers, in OSCE area in addition to blatant violation of Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and internationally recognized borders, we observe also similar situation in Ukraine, Georgia and Republic of Moldova. Azerbaijan believes that lasting solutions to the conflicts mentioned above can only be assured through respect for the norms and principles of international law, particularly those pertaining to sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of internationally recognized borders of Member States of OSCE.