Permanent Mission of Azerbaijan to the OSCE: Attempt by Armenia to change the format of negotiations is an open challenge to the peace process

Permanent Mission of Azerbaijan to the OSCE: Attempt by Armenia to change the format of negotiations is an open challenge to the peace process
# 08 November 2019 08:23 (UTC +04:00)

The Permanent Mission of the Republic of Azerbaijan to the OSCE made a statement during the discussion at the meeting of the OSCE Permanent Council of the report of the Minsk Group co-chairs on the settlement of the Nagorno Garabakh conflict, APA reports.

The statement notes that there is no progress in the settlement of the conflict: "The Delegation of the Republic of Azerbaijan welcomes the Co-Chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Conference, the Head of HLPG and the Personal Representative of Chairman-in-Office on the Conflict Dealt with by the Minsk Conference back to the Permanent Council and thanks them for their statements Since the last appearance of the Co-Chairmen at the Permanent Council we have seen no progress towards the resolution of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict.

The Co-Chairmen, Personal Representative of Chairman-in-Office confirm that ceasefire is generally observed with skirmishes reduced to unprecedented level. They confirm the existence of an atmosphere that is conducive for produetive discussions and progress in settlement talks, which is also reflected in OSCE documents. However, unprecedented calm situation along the front line since at least September 2018 and resulting positive atmosphere did not translate into progress in conflict resolution. In fact, today we can talk only about the meetings, which unfortunately cannot be translated in full-fledged negotiations on substantive issues of the conflict resolution that would allow moving beyond the current status-quo of occupation, which Co-Chairmen themselves called unsustainable and unacceptable Despite certain intensification in frequency of meetings, the apparent lack of political will of Armenia to engage in negotiations in good faith continues to impede advancement of the process.

The September meeting between the foreign ministers of Azerbaijan and Armenia in New York was also disappointing in this regard. We are of the view that some CBMS can be implemented, provided that they are synchronized with the political process. But, they cannot be a substitute to negotiation process. Nor, can these smal steps related to preparing populations for peace be put forward as preconditions for substantive negotiations. Over the past year we have witnessed consistent attempts by the leadership of Armenia to derail the peace process by resorting to irresponsible statements and actions. Thus, attempt by Armenia to change the format of negotiations is an open challenge to the peace process.

Chairs to issue the statement of 9 March 2019, in which they urged to refrain from demanding unilateral changes to the format without agreement of the other party. To remind, the format of the OSCE Minsk Conference was agreed by OSCE participating States by consensus and endorsed by the UN Security Council in its relevant resolutions and is not a subject to re-negotiation. The Armenian and Azerbaijani communities of the Nagorno-Garabagh region of Azerbaijan can be consulted with as equal interested parties when the Minsk Conference convenes and when there is a consensus on this issue. But, we are far from this stage yet, since Armenia refuses even to recognize the mere existence of the Azerbaijani community of this region of Azerbaijan The inflammatory statement by Armenia's Prime Minister that "Garabagh is Armenia. Period" rightly so met with indignation by the international community, including by the Co-chairing countries. Such statements, including the most recent one by this country's defense minister that "Garabagh issue is resolved", is detrimental to the peace process Furthermore, Armenia persistently puts to the forefront the issue of status, which is contrary to the decisions of OSCE endorsed by the UN Security Council resolutions.

The conflict resolution process is based on step-by-step approach, addressing in the first stage the consequences of the conflict, including the occupation of the territories of Azerbaijan. Armenia must understand and other States must remember that this approach is inevitable, has no alternative and is based on the UN Security Council resolutions and the OSCE decisions, in particular the Budapest Summit decision of 1994, which form the framework for political settlement of the conflict.

The mandate of the Co-Chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Group is based on this understanding Armenia's abuse of procedures related to monitoring of PRC O and efforts to prevent Turkish officer of HLPG from performing his duty and participating in the monitoring exercises is the latest egregious example of deplorable practice of this country.

As a result, monitoring with participation of HLPG did not take place on 9 October 2019, and I regret that this was not mentioned by the head of HLPG In OSCE, we witness the atmosphere of indifference to the principles of conflict resolution, which has been also apparent from the number of States speaking under this agenda item today.

I wish to thank the Delegations of Turkey, Ukraine and Georgia who stood up for the principles of resolution of the conflict, which should be applied equally to al conflicts in the OSCE area without any reservations. And I regret that this was not the case with other speakers n OSCE we see a number of States speaking on the conflicts, but, while we collectively recognize that non-compliance with international law and with OSCE norms and principles lie behind the immediate causes of violent conflicts, these participating States demonstrate notorious double standards towards resolution of protracted conflicts, which can hardly reconcile with their repeated calls to restore unconditional respect for the principles enshrined in the Helsinki Final Act.

These principles should be equally applied to all participating States and to all conflicts without any exception, double standards, geographic or any other preferences. Until these double standards exist, OSCE will be far from being an effective mechanism of conflict prevention and resolution, no matter how often we pledge or adopt decisions to this end, As a country suffering from the occupation of its territories and the forced displacement of hundreds of thousands of its citizens, Azerbaijan is the most interested country in finding a soonest, durable solution to the conflict. Today, it is Azerbaijan and its leadership that determine political, economic, military situation on the ground.

There is no war because of the policy of Azerbaijan to seek a political settlement of the conflict. But, we would like to reiterate that no peace settlement of the conflict can be reached which violates the Constitution of the Republic of Azerbaijan and is inconsistent with international law. The military occupation of the territory of Azerbaijan does not represent a solution and will never produce a political outcome desired by Armenia.

Therefore, we expect that your mediation activities on the resolution of the conflict will be directed at restoring the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan within its internationally recognized borders, which has never been and will never be a subject of negotiations or any compromise. Azerbaijan remains committed to the conflict settlement process based on this understanding. Mr. Chairman Azerbaijan has consistently attracted the attention of the OSCE, the Co-Chairmen of the Minsk Conference and the entire international community to the continued unlawful practice of altering demographic, cultural and physical character of the occupied territories of Azerbaijan.

The unlawful actions by Armenia show its intention and systematic policy aimed at consolidating the occupation and imposing a fait accompli. These steps demonstrate Armenia's firm conviction in the existence of an alternative to a political solution of the conflict and undermine trust in the peace process Today, we would like to submit to the Permanent Council some evidence based on satellite images of the occupied territories, which show that in total disregard of international humanitarian law and the appeals from the wider international community, the illegal activities in the occupied territories have not only continued. but intensified and expanded. The full report was submitted to participating States yesterday via the Note Verbal of the Mission. Today, we present only few images of the illegal activities in those territories.

The illegal activities include, but are not limited to transfer of Armenian settlers from Armenia and elsewhere into the occupied territories, including the areas adjacent to the occupied Nagorno-Garabagh region of Azerbaijan, in particular the districts of Lachin, Kalbajar, Gubadly, Zangilan and Jabrayil; exploitation of natural resources, in particular mining of precious minerals and metals; construction of permanent energy, agriculture, social, residential and transport infrastructure in support of settlement enterprise: exploitation of agricultural assets.

Illegal activities raise serious environmental concerns Armenia not only failed to take adequate measures to put an end to such activities, but actively encourages such activities, which infringe upon the public as well as private property rights of the Azerbaijani population expelled from these territories and prevents the exercise by the forcibly displaced population of its inalienable right to return.

Azerbaijan has repeatedly called and urged the OSCE participating States, including the Co- chairing countries and does this again to take effective measures in accordance with their international obligations that would prevent any activities by their natural and legal persons against the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, including the participation in or facilitation of any unlawful activity in the Nagorno-Garabagh region and other occupied territories of Azerbaijan.

The responsibility for the consequences of any action, including pursuit of individuals and corporations through the national legal system of Azerbaijan and domestic courts of involved or third party States, which the Republic of Azerbaijan may be obliged to undertake, will lie entirely with the Republic of Armenia. In conclusion, we once again thank the Co-Chairmen of the OSCE Minsk Conference, the Head of the HLPG and the Personal Representative of the CiO for their reports and wish them every success in their future endeavours."

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