The Karabakh issue is not a territorial issue for us. In that sense, the security and the rights of Karabakh Armenians are of fundamental importance for us, Armen Grigoryan, Secretary of Armenian Security Council, told Armenpress.
Armen Grigoryan particularly referred to the statements of the Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. In particular, in one of his speeches in the National Assembly, Prime Minister Pashinyan proposed to separate the Nagorno-Karabakh issue from Armenian-Azerbaijani relations.
"Now we should actively discuss this option and decide how to proceed," Grigoryan said.
Estimates have recently been heard from geopolitical centers that there is a serious possibility of normalizing Armenian-Azerbaijani relations and thus establishing long-term peace and stability in the region. Does the Armenian government see such an opportunity?
The fact that the Armenian government has announced a peace agenda as a state strategy and policy is a direct indication that we see such an opportunity. This possibility becomes even more substantive when we consider that the Armenian government, the political majority, takes responsibility for the implementation of the peace agenda, while understanding that it is not an easy path. I think that the commitment of the Armenian government and political majority to the peace agenda is an important factor for the assessments voiced from various international platforms.
What roadmap do you see for the implementation of the peace agenda?
The agenda is well known: the works on the delimitation and security of the border with Azerbaijan, which have already started, and the second meeting of the Commission on Border Delimitation and Security is scheduled for the second half of August in Moscow, the opening of regional communications…
Azerbaijan claims that Armenia is dragging its feet on these issues.
A meeting of the Commission on Border Delimitation and Security was scheduled for the second half of August at the suggestion of the Azerbaijani side. The Armenian side was ready for the second meeting both in June and July. We have repeatedly expressed our willingness to open regional communications.
Recently there was a package of proposals that we passed through diplomatic channels in December 2021, and it is still in force today. We have made a number of other proposals and are very interested in opening up regional communications, which is part of the Armenian Crossroads project. Of course, the issue of the specific route of the east-west section of the project can be discussed, we have never insisted on just one option, and we need to find the most efficient route, because the functionality and attractiveness of the Armenian Crossroads project depends on it.
In the trilateral working group on communications, which is co-chaired by the deputy prime ministers of Russia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan, we are noticing some progress and are ready to continue in the same spirit.
Does peace with Azerbaijan consist of these two steps? What will happen to the status of Karabakh?
No, the culmination of the road map and peace agenda you mentioned is, of course, the signing of a peace treaty with Azerbaijan. You know that Azerbaijan presented five points on this, and the Republic of Armenia said that there was nothing unacceptable in them.
Including the recognition of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan? That is, does Armenia recognize the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and has no territorial claims?
Armenia recognizes the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan at least because it is part of our legislation. We have repeatedly said that Armenia and Azerbaijan recognized each other's territorial integrity and inviolability of borders by the agreement on the formation of the CIS, signed and subsequently ratified in 1991. And today this document is part of the legislation of both Armenia and Azerbaijan. This needs to be expressed at the bilateral level as well. And as we said, there is nothing unacceptable for us in this perspective, and Armenia, yes, has no territorial claims against Azerbaijan.
And Karabakh, what about the issue and the status of Karabakh?
We have repeatedly said that the Karabakh issue is not a territorial issue for us. In this sense, the security and rights of Karabakh Armenians are of fundamental importance to us. In one of his speeches in the National Assembly, Prime Minister Pashinyan said that there is an idea to separate the Nagorno-Karabakh issue from the Armenian-Azerbaijani relations. Now we have to actively discuss this option and decide how to proceed.
That is, to sign a peace agreement with Azerbaijan without a final solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh issue?
There is such an idea. But at this point it's too early to talk about any such formula.
And what security guarantees should there be for the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh?
There is an international guarantee for the security of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh – the presence of peacekeeping forces of the Russian Federation. We need to work to further improve this guarantee, but the demilitarization of the Nagorno-Karabakh issue is an important idea.
By and large, is Armenia ready to sign a peace treaty with Azerbaijan?
By and large I think we are moving in that direction.
And the return of the prisoners, finding out the fate of the missing.
The solution of humanitarian issues is a necessary concomitant element of the peace agenda. This includes the question of preserving cultural heritage. All of these issues need to be resolved, of course. By the way, over the past two years Armenia handed over to Azerbaijan 130 bodies of Azerbaijanis missing in the first Karabakh war. We are ready to actively cooperate in this issue too and expect the same from Azerbaijan. On the Armenian side there are over 770 people missing since the first Karabakh war. The number of our missing in the 44-day war is 203.
The day before, the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure reported that the reconstruction of the M12/-Tegh-Kornidzor road is scheduled to begin in August. Is this a new route of the Lachin corridor? And when will construction be completed?
Yes. The construction will be completed within the timeframe of the November 9, 2020 trilateral statement.
And how do you assess the prospects for Armenian-Turkish relations?
The special representatives of the two countries have reached specific agreements, namely on the opening of the border for the citizens of third countries and on the start of air transportation between the two countries. In their telephone conversation on July 11 the Prime Minister of Armenia and the President of Turkey agreed to implement those agreements and to take further steps. It is unequivocal that we will adhere to these agreements, especially as Russia, the United States, France, Iran, Georgia and the EU support the process of normalization of the Armenian-Turkish relations.