Armenian FM Mirzoyan to Greece: We fought external oppressors together, let's cooperate at a higher level

Armenian Foreign Minister Ararat Mirzoyan

On June 27, within the framework of his working visit to Greece, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Armenia Ararat Mirzoyan gave an interview to the Greek newspaper “Kathimerini”, which is presented below:

Question: Greek-Armenian relations have been traditionally amicable. Is there space for further development? What are the main topics of your contacts here in Athens?

Answer: Greece is one of Armenia's most important partners in Europe and in the world. The relations between Armenia and Greece are underpinned by millennia-old shared history and values, friendship, and solidarity between our two peoples.

Throughout the centuries, Armenians and Greeks peacefully lived next to each other, collaborated to create value and prosperity, and fought together against external oppressors. In this context, I want to stress that we will never forget the wholehearted support the Greek people and the government provided during very tough times in our nation's history, the most recent example being the war of 2020.

This year we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between our republics. Over these three decades, more than 40 documents have been signed between the two countries and we’ve developed robust interstate relations and a solid bilateral agenda ranging from active political dialogue to partnership in different areas, including defense, economy, education, culture, and many other fields, as well as mutually beneficial collaboration on multilateral platforms.

During my recent working visit to Greece, I held very productive talks with President Katerina Sakellaropoulou and Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, as well as in-depth discussions with my colleague and good friend Minister Nikos Dendias. We’ve made progress and reached a common understanding on a number of important issues and will continue to work to deepen our relations further.

Also, I believe that we should mull over raising Armenia-Greece cooperation to a significantly higher level, which could be proper for strategic partners. I am confident we should work in this direction in the near future.

Question: Armenia, Greece, and Cyprus have held some rounds of trilateral talks. How can this relationship further evolve?

Answer: Armenia attaches great importance to the trilateral format of cooperation. By now we have successfully conducted several Trilateral Ministerial meetings. We are looking forward to hosting the Summit of the format on the level of the leaders of our three countries.

Our nations have rich experience of collaboration and mutual support and we believe that our states have huge potential to promote stability, security, and peace in the region, through enhanced political dialogue and cooperation of Armenia, Greece, and Cyprus. We also acknowledge the importance and efficiency of trilateral cooperation in defense, diaspora, parliamentary ties, emergency situations, IT, healthcare, investments, tourism, education, and culture. I am confident that the format is destined to succeed.

Question: In 2020, there was a war in Nagorno-Karabakh. Is Armenia willing to accept the current status quo around Nagorno-Karabakh? And if not what could be an alternative?

Answer: Despite the claims of the Azerbaijani authorities that after the 44-day war of 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh does not exist as an entity anymore and that the conflict is over, the reality and the position of the international community prove the contrary: Nagorno-Karabakh does exist with its Armenian population, who continue to live in their ancestral land and whose security is now ensured by the Russian peacekeepers, in accordance with the November 9, 2020, trilateral statement, which stopped the devastating war.

The conflict doesn’t stop existing just because one of the sides is declaring that it does not exist. This is self-delusion. Moreover, the official statements by our numerous international partners and organizations, including mediating countries, also clearly show that the NK conflict still needs a final settlement through negotiations under the mandate of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairmanship; a settlement, which should provide guarantees of security and protection of all rights of the Armenians of Artsakh and accordingly the deriving final status of Nagorno-Karabakh.

Question: You have several tracks of negotiations with Azerbaijan. Can the war in Ukraine influence diplomatic developments in the South Caucasus?

Answer: The situation in the South Caucasus remains fragile. While Armenia through its actions aspires to relaunch comprehensive peace negotiations, including on the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and thus bring stability and peace to the region, Azerbaijan continues its policy of provocative actions and threats of use of force.

After the situation unfolded in Ukraine, the Azerbaijani armed forces invaded the village of Parukh in Nagorno-Karabakh, which was preceded by constant shelling of villages and civilian infrastructure, urging the peaceful Armenian population of neighbouring villages to leave their homes under the threat of use of force, disruption of the operation of the gas pipeline for several weeks amid the unprecedented cold weather, etc.

Currently, when the world focuses its attention on Ukraine, Azerbaijan may be tempted to launch a large-scale provocation at any moment. Hence, it is extremely important for the international community to undertake effective steps to prevent the attempts of destabilizing the situation in the South Caucasus․

Question: Are you optimistic about Armenia- Azerbaijan normalization?

Answer: In line with the Trilateral Statements adopted by the Russian mediation on January 11, 2021, and November 26, 2021, and the agreements reached in Brussels, Armenia has constructively engaged in dialogue with Azerbaijan on general normalization of the relations, delimitation, and border security between the two countries and the unblocking of regional economic links and transport communications.

We reiterate our commitment to work constructively in all directions, and I want to emphasize that the process would have been much smoother and much more effective if Azerbaijan would refrain from its dangerous maximalism and armenophobic rhetoric, holding numerous Armenian prisoners of war and other detained persons in captivity, destroying Armenian cultural and religious heritage, hindering the access of international humanitarian organizations to the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone, etc.

Overall, we believe that despite all the blood and hatred the region witnessed, there is a real opportunity for peace in the South Caucasus. Armenia has repeatedly reaffirmed its readiness to establish long-term stability and open an era of peaceful development in the region.

At the same time, it is obvious that these efforts cannot be one-sided, and we are expecting a similarly constructive approach and sincere practical steps from the Azerbaijani side towards this end.

Question: Recently Armenia started a process of normalizing its ties with Turkey. Are you optimistic about tangible steps in this direction? What could these steps be?

Answer: The leadership of Armenia stated many times and it is also mentioned in our Government program that Armenia is ready for the establishment of diplomatic relations with Turkey and opening of the border between our countries that Turkey unilaterally closed back in 1993.

The Special Representatives have been appointed for the process of normalization of relations between Armenia and Turkey and four meetings have already been held where the sides reiterated their commitment to continue the process without any preconditions with the goal of opening the borders and establishing diplomatic relations.

To give a positive dynamic to that process I accepted the invitation of the Foreign Minister of Turkey to participate in the Antalya Diplomatic Forum and met with my counterpart on the margins of the Forum.

Today, a political will and readiness to undertake concrete steps towards normalizing relations are necessary for the success of the process. The Armenian side has repeatedly demonstrated both and we expect the same from the Turkish side.

Question: What is Armenia's position regarding the most sensitive issues for Greece at the moment, such as the regularly increasing tension on the Greek-Turkish borders, and the Cyprus issue?

Answer: Armenia fully supports the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Hellenic Republic. Armenia considers unacceptable any actions and steps that can grossly violate the norms of International law, the Law of the Sea, as well as the UN Charter.

As for the Cyprus issue, as in the Nagorno-Karabakh issue, in this case, too, any attempt to present the consequences of the use of force as a solution is unacceptable to us. Armenia and Cyprus always mutually supported each other on bilateral and multilateral platforms.

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