Armenia's foreign policy priorities have not changed - highlights from foreign ministry press secretary
Press Secretary for the Armenian Foreign Ministry Anna Naghdalyan spoke about the country’s foreign policy priorities and presented her department’s position on the most pressing issues.
The discussion, in particular, turned to settling the Karabakh conflict, a prisoner exchange with Azerbaijan, cooperation with Russia, as well as information about alleged mercenaries from Syria in Azerbaijan.
More details below.
Cooperation with Nagorno-Karabakh
Naghdalyan stated that for the last 29 years, Nagorno-Karabakh has proved its ability to ensure the security of its population and to fulfill its international obligations, in particular, those concerning the development of democracy and human rights. At the same time, she says that Armenia is ready to continue to strengthen its close cooperation with Nagorno-Karabakh.
Settling the Karabakh conflict
Armenia’s priorities in the negotiation and settlement process are continuing the ceasefire, avoiding using threats or force, and putting a stop to hateful rhetoric.
The press secretary recalled that the foreign ministers of Armenia and Azerbaijan declared that they were ready to continue negotiations. However, the exact date when the negotiations will resume has not yet been set.
The only format for settling the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict for Armenia remains the co-chairmanship of the OSCE Minsk Group. And in no way is Turkey considered an intermediary.
“Judging by the way it is behaving, Turkey seems to really want to prove itself as a party to the conflict, which is another manifestation of Turkey’s destabilizing policy”, says Anna Naghdalyan.
The Armenian officer who was taken prisoner and the prisoner exchange
Representatives from the International Committee of the Red Cross still managed to visit the captive Armenian officer in Azerbaijan, the press secretary said.
The Azerbaijani defense ministry announced on August 23 that the Azerbaijani armed forces had captured the “saboteur”. The Armenian side claims that Gurgen Alaverdyan got lost due to unfavorable weather conditions, and the idea that he was captured and kidnapped is also being considered.
The Armenian foreign ministry believes that the humiliation the Armenian serviceman is subjected to in Azerbaijan is a gross violation of international humanitarian law. This is in reference to a video message from Alaverdyan, where he says that he “regrets his actions and wants to serve Azerbaijan”. In Armenia, they believe that the Azerbaijani side forced the Armenian officer to read this message aloud.
Naghdalyan says that Armenian citizens who find themselves in Azerbaijan are usually accused on far-fetched charges, despite the fact that they did not commit any crimes within the country. Thus, in her opinion, “Azerbaijan is trying … to return the murderers who are serving their sentences in Nagorno-Karabakh back to Azerbaijan”.
These alleged murderers are Azerbaijanis Dilgam Askerov and Shahbaz Guliyev, who are convicted of sabotage and the murder of an Armenian teenager and an officer. The Azerbaijani side claims that they crossed into Armenian-controlled to visit the graves of their ancestors.
In addition to officer Gurgen Alaverdyan, Karen Ghazaryan and Arayik Ghazaryan are imprisoned in Azerbaijan. The first is considered a saboteur in Baku, while Armenians say he is just mentally ill. The second, according to the Azerbaijani side, escaped from the military unit due to inhumane treatment. In Armenia, it is believed that he got lost.
From the words of the press secretary, it becomes clear that Armenia will not agree to the exchange:
“There are no prisoners of war on the territory of Armenia. Just this year, two citizens of Azerbaijan ended up in Armenia. And criminal cases are not fabricated against them, they are not considered prisoners of war, their rights and dignity are respected”.
Cooperation with Russia
“Azerbaijan says that allied countries (in this case, Armenia and Russia) should not closely cooperate in the military-technical sphere. Perhaps this is new information for them, but allied relations between Armenia and Russia were established back in the 90s ”.
Mercenaries from Syria in Azerbaijan
The international press reported that Turkey is transporting mercenaries to Azerbaijan from the Afrin and Azaz regions of Syria, and that they are “preparing for a blitzkrieg in Armenia”.
Naghdalyan states that the Armenian foreign ministry is looking into this information.
“It’s a real cause for concern…Such a danger exists, especially when you take into account the possibility of involving religious extremists in Azerbaijan, as well Turkish terrorists”.
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