Distortion of essence of negotiations ‘unacceptable’ – Azerbaijani presidential aide
Secretary of Armenia’s Security Council Armen Grigoryan said in an interview with local media two days ago that Armenia and Azerbaijan intend to sign a peace treaty by the end of 2022. According to Grigoryan, US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan discussed the terms of the peace treaty and the possible signing of this document by the end of this year at a meeting with Hikmat Hajiyev, Assistant to the President of Azerbaijan, Head of the Foreign Policy Affairs Department of the Presidential Administration. Grigoryan also noted that an agreement was reached on the completion of the delimitation process by the end of 2022. Peace treaty and delimitation are related to each other.
News.Az presents Hikmat Hajiyev’s interview on the abovementioned issue.
Q: What can you say about the latest statement by Secretary of Armenia’s Security Council Armen Grigoryan regarding the talks held in Washington on September 27, 2022, on the initiative of US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan?
A: First of all, I would like to once again thank US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan for organizing these talks. We appreciate the recent efforts of US officials at various levels toward the normalization of Armenia-Azerbaijan relations.
I would like to emphasize that the Washington talks were conducted in a structured manner in accordance with the agreed agenda already defined in the Brussels format. The talks in a structured manner cover the following areas:
- Peace treaty
- Border delimitation
- Opening of communications
- Humanitarian issues in general, including the issue related to missing persons and the landmine problem.
The talks held in Washington and elsewhere were aimed at contributing to the Brussels peace agenda, not creating an additional agenda.
Regarding a peace treaty, it was decided in Washington that the negotiations should be conducted within a specific time frame. In this regard, the Azerbaijani side presented the draft of the peace treaty to Armenia at the meeting of the foreign ministers of the two countries in Geneva.
I would like to emphasize that these are standard provisions included in the agreement on the normalization of relations between any two countries. That is, mutual recognition of sovereignty and territorial integrity, non-interference in international affairs, etc.
As emphasized by President Ilham Aliyev, if Armenia demonstrates political will, a peace agreement can be signed by the end of this year.
The signing of a peace treaty between the two countries will, of course, change the overall geopolitical situation in the region in a completely positive direction.
Our position on the delimitation issue is that this process should be carried out without any preconditions and the approach aimed at predetermining the results of the commissions’ work is unacceptable. The practice in world countries, including the practice of the discussions Azerbaijan itself held with neighboring countries, indicates that delimitation is a very complex process and involves long-term intensive negotiations. The most important point here is to determine the right methodology, on the basis of which negotiations should be conducted.
As you know, we are talking about a more than 1,000 km-long undelimited border between Azerbaijan and Armenia, and a part of this border had been under Armenian occupation for almost 30 years.
During the negotiations, the Azerbaijani side also raised the issue of seven villages of Gazakh district and one village of Nakhchivan, which are still under occupation. In addition, contrary to the trilateral statement of November 10, 2020, the remnants of the Armenian army have not yet been fully withdrawn from the territories of Azerbaijan, where Russian peacekeepers are temporarily stationed.
Unfortunately, Armenia, in violation of the trilateral statement, does not fulfill its obligations regarding the opening of communications. Until today, the issue of ensuring unhindered passage from Azerbaijan’s Eastern Zangazur region to Nakhchivan has remained unresolved. The Azerbaijani side keeps raising this issue in negotiations.
As for the humanitarian issue, we especially expect Armenia to sincerely cooperate with Azerbaijan to determine the fate of nearly 3,900 of our compatriots who went missing during the First Karabakh War. Unfortunately, Armenia refuses to provide Azerbaijan with the locations of mass graves.
Q: Armen Grigoryan also touched upon the issue of “creating an international mechanism for discussing the rights and security of Karabakh Armenians”. What are your views on this?
A: As Mr. President emphasized, the Karabakh conflict has already been resolved. At the root of the settled conflict was the fact of Armenia’s military aggression against Azerbaijan and occupation of its territories. The UN Security Council resolutions also demanded an end to this occupation. Neither Armenia implemented UNSC resolutions nor those involved in mediation were able to cope with this task. As a result, Azerbaijan itself had to put an end to the Armenian military occupation and liberate its territories.
The issue of the rights and security of Armenian residents living in Azerbaijan’s Karabakh region is purely an internal matter of Azerbaijan. As the head of our state emphasized, Armenians residing in Karabakh are citizens of Azerbaijan. Both at the Brussels and Washington talks, Azerbaijan specifically underlined that Baku will not discuss the issues related to our country’s sovereign rights with a third party.
The issue related to the rights and security of Armenian residents living in Karabakh will be resolved in line with the Constitution and laws of Azerbaijan, as well as the country’s international obligations. Azerbaijan, being a responsible member of the international community, can, after a period of time, provide information to its international partners about the dialogue it conducts with its citizens as an indicator of its goodwill and an example of transparency.
During the Washington talks, Azerbaijan stated that under its international obligations, it regularly submits various reports to the United Nations and other organizations. These reports contain information about the Azerbaijani government’s activities, for example, aimed at ensuring the rights of national minorities. In the future, these reports will include the work done on ensuring the rights of Armenian residents living in Karabakh.
In other words, there is no and can be no talk of creating any international mechanism for discussing the rights and security of Armenian residents living in Azerbaijan’s Karabakh region. Sovereignty is Azerbaijan’s red line. International partners also accept this righteous position of Azerbaijan with understanding and respect.
Therefore, such an attitude towards Azerbaijan’s sovereignty by Armenia, which has included the principles of respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity in its political lexicon for the first time in 30 years, is completely unacceptable for us, and we call on Armenian officials to refrain from this position. Because it could undermine the already fragile peace process.
In conclusion, I would like to note that it is unacceptable to distort the essence of the negotiations, express personal views, allow various manipulations and play on words.