Hikmat Hajiyev: Armenia’s FM has special phobia against the notion of ‘substantive talks’

Mon 04 September 2017 15:55 GMT | 19:55 Local Time

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AzerTag's exclusive interview with Hikmat Hajiyev, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan.

Spokesman for the Foreign Ministry of Azerbaijan Hikmat Hajiyev has given an exclusive interview to AzerTag on the statements of Armenian Foreign Minister on Armenia-Azerbaijani conflict at the joint press conference with his Bosnia and Herzegovina counterpart. Below is the full text of the interview.

- During the joint press conference with Bosnia and Herzegovina Foreign Minister, Armenian Foreign Minister again touched upon the process of conflict settlement and the statement of former US co-chair Richard Hoagland. It is clear that  there is a serious panic and concern on the Armenian side. What is the reason for such panic?

- It has already been the fourth time that the Foreign Minister of Armenia touches on the same topic and always makes statements which are different from and deny each other. Obviously, the Armenian foreign minister has always been trying to mislead the Armenian public about the negotiation process by justifying himself with various excuses and lies to get out of the difficult situation. The Armenian side makes incredible and contradictory statements saying one day that the statements by US co-chair Richard Hoagland are not new and then the other day that these principles are already irrelevant, or that Armenia accepts this position or that this position does not reflect the stance of all the co-chairs.

In fact, Armenia exposes itself. The Armenian side is engaged in tautological talks rather than concrete answers to serious disputes on the basis of these principles, voiced by US co-chair Hoagland and supported by other co-chairs, as reflected in the statements of Presidents of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chair countries. Whenever concrete issues arise on the settlement of the conflict, Armenia is taking advantage of political speculatıons, tautological play of words and subsequent military provocations. The Armenian side is well aware that the essence of the proposals on the negotiation table lies in the withdrawal of Armenian troops from the occupıed territories of Azerbaijan and the return of internally displaced persons. Armenia’s goal is to avoid the essence of the negotiations, to maintain the status quo based on the occupation by means of the technical characterization of the negotiations and the imitation of talks. By targeting technical issues the Armenian side was even trying to set preconditions to the talks. It is no coincidence that the Armenian Foreign Minister has a special phobia against the notion of "substantive talks". Substantive talks are supported by the entire international community. These talks envisage a serious discussion of the principles of conflict resolution, voiced by Hoagland and supported by other co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, and, ultimately, the resolution of the conflict.

Therefore, guided by Vladimir Ilyich Lenin’s principle ‘quantity is also a quality’, the Armenian Foreign Minister ridiculously refers to the number of meetings and claims that the meetings deliberately imitated by Armenia were also substantive. The goal is not the number of meetings but the settlement of the conflict and provision of sustainable development in the region. This is hampered by the occupational and destructive policy pursued by Armenia.

- At the same press conference the Armenian Foreign Minister again speaks about some principles and states that Azerbaijan shows a selective approach  to the ceasefire regime, the UN Security Council resolutions and principles of the Karabakh conflict settlement.

- It is necessary to expose the lies of the Armenian Foreign Minister by the order he presents his lies. 

First, contrary to the Helsinki Final Act and the statements given by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs on the level of the heads of states, the Armenian Foreign Minister deliberately distorts the sequence of principles of non-use of force or threatening by force, territorial integrity and right of peoples to self-determination and puts the right to self-determination to the first place. We would like to remind that in their Aquila, Muscoca, Deauville, Los Cabos and Enniskillen statements, the heads of the co-chairing states also list the principles in the same sequence based on the Helsinki Final Act: non-use of force or threatening by force, territorial integrity of states and right to self-determination. 

Article 8 of the Helsinki Final Act states: " The participating States will respect the equal rights of peoples and their right to self-determination, acting at all times in conformity with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and with the relevant norms of international law, including those relating to territorial integrity of States."

In addition, the Helsinki Final Act reaffirms the principles of inviolability and territorial integrity of states, emphasizing the inadmissibility of occupying lands through force. At the same time, there is a commitment by states to prevent the legalization of the situation resulting from the use of force against the territorial integrity or political sovereignty of states. Thus, it is Armenia that violates the commitments of the Helsinki Final Act.

Secondly, the Armenian Foreign Minister continues to distort the essence of the cease-fire regime and continues to present documents by drawing them out of their context in line with Armenia's own interests. Ceasefire is not and cannot be peace. Ceasefire is an opportunity to achieve a lasting peace.

In general, the documents on the ceasefire did not appear in a political vacuum and a number of documents related to the conflict, including the UN Security Council resolutions, and the OSCE Budapest document were adopted before and after the ceasefire.

The Bishkek Protocol of 4-5 May 1994, so frequently referred to by Armenia, says: “…work intensively to confirm this as soon as possible by signing a reliable, legally binding agreement envisaging a mechanism, ensuring the nonresumption of military and hostile activities, withdrawal of troops from occupied territories and restoration of communication, return of refugees.”

The document adopted by the heads of states and governments of the participating countries of the Budapest Summit of 1994 says:   They (the heads of state or government of the OSCE member-states) called on the parties to the conflict to enter into intensified substantive talks, including direct contacts;…  to conduct speedy negotiations for the conclusion of a political agreement on the cessation of the armed conflict…”

In addition, I would like to mention Annex II dated November 5, 1995 "Time schedule for measures to regulate the situation, particularly in the occupied territories", which was part of the 1994-1995 ceasefire discussion. This document specifically provides for the withdrawal of troops from the Agdara, Agdam, Khojavand, Fuzuli, Jabrayil, Zangilan, Gubadli, Kalbajar and Lachin regions of Azerbaijan and mines removal operations in accordance with the relevant time schedule.

Armenia is trying to deny these documents and to bring up only some episodes of the ceasefire regime.

Third, the Foreign Minister of Armenia distorts the UN Security Council's resolutions 822, 853, 874 and 884, contrary to its obligations under the UN Charter, claiming that they are no longer valid for Armenian diplomacy and alleging that the co-chairs are not referring to them.

The UN Security Council's resolutions constitute the mandate of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs. According to the March 23, 1995 document on the mandate of the OSCE Minsk Group, in their actions co-chairs shall be guided by the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council, the decisions of the OSCE Budapest Summit, and report to the UN Secretary General and the Security Council on the implementation of resolutions.

When adopting resolutions 822 (1993), 853 (1993), 854 (1993) and 884 (1993) in connection with the Armenian-Azerbaijani Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the UN Security Council condemned the occupation of Azerbaijani territories, affirmed the territorial integrity, sovereignty and inviolability of the borders of Azerbaijan and demanded immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of the occupying forces. The UN Security Council resolutions have no time limit. These resolutions are actual and up-to-date unless they are implemented. No state has been authorized to distort the UN Security Council resolutions or to diminish their role.

In its resolution No 874 the UN Security Council welcomed and praised  "the updated schedule of urgent measures for the implementation of Security Council resolutions 822 and 853" submitted by all members of the OSCE Minsk Group. Adopted on the basis of the mandate of the UN Security Council Resolution 853, this document envisages the gradual withdrawal of Armenian troops from the occupied Azerbaijani territories by a definite schedule.

UN Secretary-General's statement No SG/SM/ 5469, of October 31, 1994, clearly states: "The position of the United Nations is based on four principles which are contained in various resolutions of the UN Security Council. The first principle is the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. The second principle is the inviolability of international borders. The third principle is the inadmissibility of the use of force to obtain a territory. The fourth principle is the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of all foreign troops from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan. "

The Armenian Foreign Minister uses so much tautology that I have to answer the fourth and fifth claims in his ranking. Unlike the Armenian Foreign Minister, the Azerbaijani side does not distort the words and statements of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs and does not speak on behalf of the Minsk Group co-chairing countries.

The principles presented by the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs on the conflict settlement and the proposals at the negotiating table now provide for a step-by-step solution of the conflict, based on the Helsinki Final Act and the UN Security Council resolutions. The implementation of the first step here is the basis for the next steps. That is, the first step is to ensure the withdrawal of Armenıan troops from the occupıed  territories around Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaıjan, return of IDPs and other security measures. The Armenian side treats the issue by the principle of putting the cart before the horse.

The Azerbaijani side has repeatedly stated its readiness for substantive talks on the settlement of the conflict based on the currently negotiated proposals put forward by the co-chairs. As is said, the ball is now on Armenia’s side. Armenia should respond clearly to the calls of the international community, the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs and Azerbaijan for serious talks on the basis of existing proposals. Otherwise, Armenia bears the full responsibility.

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