The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Republic of Artsakh Masis Mailyan in his interview with ArmInfo tells about the priorities of the state entity he heads, the prospects for the negotiation process to determine the future of Artsakh people. He talks about the tools that Russia operates in the Karabakh settlement process, shares the vision of international prospects for the process of strengthening the Artsakh border and resolving the problems of refugees.
Mr. Mailyan, name the main priorities and vectors of activities of the Artsakh Foreign Ministry since the department has been headed by you. How the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic, in particular, refers to the paragraph of the Madrid principles, which provide for the surrender of part of the Artsakh territories to the enemy?
I can say that, among other things, the foreign policy and relations of the Republic of Artsakh are aimed at achieving international recognition. And the formation of favorable, external conditions for the safe development of Artsakh remains one of our priorities. At the same time, the republic fully meets the criteria of legal subjectness. It corresponds to the Convention on the Rights and Duties of States, adopted in 1993 in Montevideo, one of which is the ability to enter into relations with other countries. I am convinced that the lack of recognition of Artsakh by the UN member states can not cause any doubt on the existing reality, in which the republic appears as an important military-political regional factor. Fror intance, the Switzerland gained international recognition only a few centuries after the actual basis. And there are plenty of such countries in the world. The process of recognizing Artsakh is already under way, at the present time at the level of individual administrative units of certain countries. In this light, it is necessary to note the fact of recognition of Artsakh as a party to the conflict on the part of the OSCE. As for the paragraph on the territories, the state borders of today's Artsakh, fixed by our Constitution, by no means go beyond Artsakh's historical limits. I also can not fail to note that about 15% of the Republic of Artsakh: Shahumyan district, as well as part of Martakert and Martuni districts are still occupied by Azerbaijan today.
Yes, but nonetheless, it is already 20 years that Artsakh people have not actually participated in the negotiations to determine their own destiny. How is this reflected in the prospects of the negotiation process, in general?
Actually, since 1997, the peace process has been proceeding in a distorted format, without the direct participation of Stepanakert, which, according to my estimates, affects the effectiveness of the negotiations extremely negatively. Moreover, in my opinion, today the negotiation process in the classical sense of this concept, as it was before 1997, is still absent. Since that period, we have witnessed the so-called. "Shuttle diplomacy" around the harmonization of a number of principles on the basis of which it will be possible to continue negotiations. But this process also faces great difficulties, especially against the backdrop of the military provocation launched by Baku in April 2016, an adventure that was a blow to the negotiation process, further pushing the prospects for a final settlement of the protracted conflict. As a result, today the efforts of the mediators are mainly aimed at preserving regional stability and peace.
I do not believe there could be any changes in the "Karabakh" position of Moscow. Especially after the events of April 2016. Russia, together with the United States and France, is the co-chair of the OSCE Minsk Group and has a coordinated position with them on the conflict towards peace in our region. That is why Russia, of course, is in agreement with other co-chairing countries actively contributed to the cessation of hostilities in April last year. Of course, a special, similar activity is due to the availability of appropriate instruments at Moscow's disposal, capable of influencing the parties to the conflict.
Does such a “toolset” assume the parallel sale of Russian arms to Armenia and Azerbaijan ?
With the approach of Moscow, justifying the sale of weapons to Azerbaijan, logic could be agreed in the spirit of "we will not sell, others will sell," and an attempt to preserve military balance in the conflict region could only be accepted if Russia was the only supplier of arms to Azerbaijan. However, Israel is supplying approximately similar amounts of armaments to Azerbaijan today. The same is done by Turkey, Ukraine, Pakistan, South Africa, and even Armenia's ally in the CSTO and the EEA Belarus. In the light of the foregoing, it is appropriate to note that, as a rule, Western countries do not sell weapons to the parties to the Karabakh conflict. Accordingly, Russia's sale of arms to Azerbaijan, taking into account allied relations between Russia and Armenia, is perceived negatively both in Armenia and in Artsakh.
To what extent does it contribute to strengthening the international positions of Artsakh, the ongoing strengthening of the defense line on the Artsakh-Azerbaijan border?
The military-political leadership of our country, indeed, continues active work in the direction of strengthening the defense line along its entire length in order to ensure the military security of Artsakh. In April last year our Defense Army demonstrated the ability to stop and drive back the enemy in all directions by which the Azerbaijani army attacked our positions. Of course, in this Defense Army, volunteers from Artsakh, as well as from Armenia and even from the countries of the Diaspora, significantly helped, and did not wait for the mobilization order. It is possible that at the same time the Azerbaijani ally was supported by Turkey - close cooperation of these countries in the military-technical sphere is not a secret. I can say that in April 2016 our army was given a great deal of strength and the Artsakh people continue to work consistently in the direction of creating various mechanisms for restraining the next, possible aggression of Azerbaijan.
We have to state that even after 30 years since the beginning of the Karabakh conflict, the problem of refugees has not been completely solved in any of the conflicting countries. Meanwhile, in the settlement process, the "lands" issue is traditionally discussed, but not the issue of people who lived there in the past and do live there now. In what plane do you see the solution of these people's problems ?
Actually, people who suffered in the result of the Karabakh conflict, i.e. refugees and internally displaced persons exist both in Artsakh and Armenia, and in Azerbaijan. I can say that at least 10 times more Armenians were forced to leave Azerbaijan (which forms about 400 thousand) , than Azerbaijanis from Artsakh. This is indicated both by the official data of Soviet statistics from 1989, and by informal figures known to us. And all these people, without exception, suffered as a result of the war unleashed by Azerbaijan against Artsakh. We see the clear need to respect the rights of all refugees and IDPs (Internaly Displaced Persons), which, in fact, is reflected in the negotiations under the auspices of the OSCE Minsk Group. With a few exceptions, the issue of granting Armenians and Azerbaijanis the right to return to their homeland is not disputed, the problem lies in the lack of legal and political conditions necessary for this return. International practice and law provide a number of other, alternative mechanisms for restoring the rights of these people. In my opinion, the refugee problem is one of the main points in the conflict resolution process. At the same time, the problem of refugees is closely interconnected to other problems. In our opinion, for the complex resolution of this tangle of problems, first of all, recognition of the independent status of the Republic of Artsakh is necessary. I can say that the people of Artsakh are extremely interested in an early resolution of the conflict, which is capable of ensuring the stability and development of all the peoples of our region.