Permanent Mission of Azerbaijan to the OSCE: Calls for resumption of talks under the auspices of the co-chairs should be based on a trilateral agreement

Permanent Mission of Azerbaijan to the OSCE: Calls for resumption of talks under the auspices of the co-chairs should be based on a trilateral agreement
# 19 November 2020 18:11 (UTC +04:00)

Azerbaijan highly appreciates the Russian side’s efforts in the field of solving Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict, it has been reflected in the response of Azerbaijan's Permanent Mission to the OSCE  to the statement by the co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group, the head of the High-Level Planning Group (HLPG) and the Personal Representative of the OSCE Chairman-in-Office, APA reports.

The statement says: 

"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 the status-quo in the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict has changed and progress in the cessation of the armed conflict has been registered, as reflected in the trilateral Statement of Armenia, Azerbaijan and the Russian Federation signed on 9 November 2020.

The agreement reached is aimed at eliminating major consequences of the conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan, which will pave the way towards establishing just and durable peace in the region. Azerbaijan highly appreciates efforts that the Russian side is making to resolve the ArmeniaAzerbaijan conflict. Russia is a permanent member of the UN Security Council and is the only country out of three co-chairing States of the OSCE Minsk Group that directly borders our region and has long-standing historical ties with it. This explains Russia’s direct interest in strengthening security, stability and peace in the South Caucasus.

Russian President V.Putin in his recent interview in sufficient detail talked about the important role that the mediation of the head of the Russian State played in reaching the agreement of 9 November 2020. The personal engagement of the President of Russia and his signature under the trilateral agreement represent his extremely important contribution to the peace process and the guarantee of the irreversibility of this process.

We fully share the assessment of the President of Russia that an important achievement of the trilateral statement is the cessation of the bloodshed. The Azerbaijani side has always and completely, since the first minutes of the war, supported the calls of the international community for a ceasefire. Of particular importance are the words of the President of Russia that from the point of view of international law, both the Nagorno-Karabakh region and all adjacent districts are an integral part of 2 the territory of Azerbaijan.

This position of Russia rests on a solid foundation of the UN Security Council resolutions, decisions of the OSCE and other international organizations. Other co-chairing countries, namely the United States and France, should also display such a principled position based on the UN Security Council resolutions and the OSCE principles and commitments.

A complete ceasefire holds to date and all military activities have been ceased as corroborated by the reports on the ground. We welcome ongoing exchange between Azerbaijan and Armenia of bodies of deceased servicemen with the assistance of the ICRC as well as Russian peacekeepers deployed in Azerbaijan along the line of contact in line with the provisions of the above-mentioned Statement.

Prisoners of war and persons detained in connection with the conflict should be exchanged without delay on the basis of principle all-for-all. According to the 9 November agreement, Armenia must withdraw its armed forces from Kalbajar district of Azerbaijan by 15 November 2020, from Aghdam district by 20 November and from Lachyn district by 1 December. According to the reports of the Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan the armed forces of Armenia gradually withdraw from these territories. I wish to inform the Permanent Council that on 15 November Armenia requested through the Russian Federation to extend the deadline for pulling out its armed forces from the Kalbajar district until 25 November to complete the process. Azerbaijan granted this request.

The Ministry of Defense of Azerbaijan is closely monitoring the withdrawal process, including by using aerial surveillance means. Withdrawal of the Armenia’s troops from the remaining occupied territories of Azerbaijan by 1 December, as stipulated in the above-mentioned agreement, is imperative to make the ceasefire sustainable. Upon withdrawal of the armed forces of Armenia from these territories the Azerbaijani Armed Forces will be deployed to the international border between Azerbaijan and Armenia and along the contact line with the Russian peacekeepers in the northern part of the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan.

The 9 November Statement also contains an important provision related to the return of the internally displaced persons (IDP) and refugees to their homes under the supervision of the UNHCR. In light of existing wide-range commitments related to IDPs and refugees, our Delegation for decades has been advocating for allocating adequate attention and resources by the OSCE’s executive structures to the issue of protection of the rights of IDPs and refugees in affected OSCE participating States, including in Azerbaijan. Our appeals did not find support among the participating States.

We were told that there was no consensus in OSCE on this issue, implying that Armenia has consistently opposed to any references to IDPs in OSCE documents. As was confirmed by the President of Russia, Azerbaijan was ready to halt hostilities and agree to a ceasefire on 19 October, provided that the Azerbaijani IDPs would be able to return to their homes in the ancient Azerbaijani city of Shusha. The Armenian prime minister denied the right of Azerbaijanis to return to Shusha and insisted that Armenia would continue combat operations. Subsequently, Azerbaijani Armed Forces liberated city of Shusha and restored Azerbaijan’s sovereignty over this city. In this regard, recent remarks of the Armenian prime minister that return of displaced persons should be a priority are pathetic.

While, we welcome somewhat belated calls from other participating States on the need to return IDPs and refugees, we hope that there is genuine interest in finding solution to the problems of all IDPs and refugees and not an attempt to use this issue as a tool to advance political interests. It is plausible that after three decades of consistent efforts of Azerbaijan to draw attention of the international community, including the OSCE Minsk Group Co-chairing countries to the purposeful destruction of cultural and religious heritage of Azerbaijan in the occupied territories in violation of international humanitarian law, we have finally recently heard calls to preserve and to protect the 3 cultural and religious sites.

As Azerbaijan restores sovereignty over its territories it will protect all cultural property on its territory and provide for respect to all spiritual shrines and places of worship in line with its legislation as well as the relevant international instruments. After the restoration of its full sovereignty Azerbaijan will start assessment and planning of the rehabilitation and reconstruction activities in the conflict-affected territories to allow for the return of displaced population to their homes in safety and in dignity.

Sustaining peace, rehabilitation and reconstruction activities, providing humanitarian assistance to those in need, including returning IDPs and refugees is absolute priority for the Government of Azerbaijan. To this end, Azerbaijan is ready to work with relevant international partners, including ICRC, UNHCR and other UN agencies as well as individual States, which are willing to contribute to peace and stability in the South Caucasus.

The UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, including resolution 46/182 on “Strengthening of the coordination of humanitarian emergency assistance of the United Nations” of 19 December 1991 provide overarching framework for humanitarian relief activities.

The Guiding Principles endorsed by the UNGA resolution 46/182 establish that humanitarian relief actions by States, international organizations and other entities and bodies should be exclusively humanitarian in nature and should be carried out in conformity with the principles of neutrality, impartiality and consent of the affected country, while fully respecting the sovereignty, territorial integrity and national unity of States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations.

In line with 9 November Statement, obstacles to all economic and transport links in the region shall be lifted. The Republic of Armenia shall guarantee the safety of transport links to be established between the western regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Nakhchyvan Autonomous Republic of Azerbaijan with the aim of facilitating the free movement of persons, vehicles and cargo in both directions.

The Republic of Azerbaijan shall guarantee the safe movement of persons, vehicles and cargo along the road passing through the Lachyn district of Azerbaijan in both directions. Azerbaijan would like to thank the Russian Federation and the Republic of Turkey for their joint efforts to establish a Centre for control over the ceasefire and cessation of all hostilities, which will oversee the compliance with the obligations of Armenia and Azerbaijan under the 9 November agreement.

These regional countries enjoying good relations with Azerbaijan and Armenia will play an important role as guarantors of the above-mentioned agreement and will contribute to peace and stability in the region. Mr. Chairperson, We have heard today calls to resume substantive negotiations to resolve the conflict under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group Co-Chairs. Azerbaijan has a solid track-record of pushing for result-oriented substantive negotiations to achieve progress in resolution of the conflict by political means.

The primary objective of the peace process pursued within the OSCE Minsk Group had been elimination of the major consequences of the conflict, thus ensuring immediate, complete and unconditional withdrawal of the Armenia’s armed forces from the occupied territories of Azerbaijan and restoring the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan. That is what international law, the UN Security Council resolutions and OSCE documents and decisions demand. However, our plea to resolve the conflict peacefully through negotiations fell on deaf ears.

Extremely provocative statements and actions of Armenia, which pursued the obvious goal of derailing the peace process and consolidating the status-quo did not receive adequate reaction and condemnation, which, to a large extent, contributed to the all-out war with all its consequences. So, these renewed calls should take into account the new realities on the ground and the fact that after almost three decades of the Minsk process we have an agreement reached by Azerbaijan, Armenia and Russia in its capacity as one of the Co-chairs of the OSCE Minsk Group.

The 9 4 November agreement symbolizes the triumph of international law, supremacy of the UN Security Council resolutions and OSCE principles and commitments. Implementation of this agreement in good faith will ensure peace in the region. In this regard, we fully share the assessment of the President of Russia V.Putin that refusal of Armenia to implement the terms of this agreement would be huge mistake and tantamount to a “suicide” for this country. We would like to thank all Delegations, which welcomed and supported the agreement and its swift implementation.

It is absolute imperative to communicate clear public messages to Armenia and Azerbaijan aimed at backing their efforts to maintain a ceasefire and cessation of all hostilities, withdraw the troops from the remaining occupied territories of Azerbaijan within the agreed deadlines, remove the obstacles to regional communication and transportation links, return the displaced population to their homes of origin and gradually normalize their relations.

These steps will ensure peace and stability in the region and will ensure peaceful coexistence of the Azerbaijani and Armenian communities of the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan fully enjoying all human rights and fundamental freedoms on an equal and non-discriminatory basis in accordance with the Constitution and legislation of Azerbaijan. We reiterate that responsible and credible mediation requires, inter alia, national ownership, the consent of the parties to the conflict, respect for the national sovereignty, the impartiality of the mediators, their compliance with agreed mandates and obligations under international law.

The Cochairing countries have no authority to impose on the sides to the conflict their views or to force through old ideas and proposals, which do not enjoy consensus of the sides. At this critical juncture we reject attempts to downplay the importance of this agreement, to revise it or to undermine its implementation due to some geopolitical considerations. Azerbaijan calls on the Governments of France, the United States, the Member States of the European Union and aligned countries and other OSCE participating States to engage with their domestic constituencies in order to support implementation of this agreement in its entirety and contribute to building confidence and trust they have been calling for many years.

The South Caucasus region had suffered from conflicts and instability for way too long. What we need now is collective efforts to build long overdue peace and stability. This is the moment of truth for OSCE and its Minsk Group if it can play any meaningful role in conflict resolution in line with its comprehensive concept of security. The Delegation of Azerbaijan has initiated discussions on the evaluation of the OSCE 2021 Unified Budget proposal for the OSCE structures dealing with the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict long before the recent war. It was our view then and even more so now that failure of OSCE to resolve the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict requires review and in-depth evaluation of the programmatic activity of the Minsk process, HLPG and PRCiO.

In the situation when the status-quo has changed and agreement between Armenia and Azerbaijan has been reached on the cessation of the armed conflict the absolute priority for the OSCE and its participating States, including Co-chairmen of the Minsk Group should be swift implementation in good faith of the trilateral agreement. Any future role of the OSCE and its participating States in sustaining peace depends on the support to the implementation of this agreement in its entirety as well as their respective contribution to building just and durable peace in the region.

And finally, our Delegation sees no point in responding to hackneyed allegations of the Armenian Delegation to the OSCE. The Armenian Delegation should abandon its obsolete conflict narrative full of falsifications, distortions and misinterpretations, and follow their Prime Minister in accepting and reconciling with new realities on the ground and implementing obligations under the 9 November agreement, which is imperative for sustainable ceasefire and peace. I request that this statement be attached to the journal of the day."

Nagorno Garabagh