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"I am not ready to sign the document, the project to assist RA has not been finalized." Pashinyan

Politics

23 November, 22:06

The regular session of the CSTO Collective Security Council was held in Yerevan under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan. First, the meeting and video recording ceremonies of the leaders of the states took place. The leaders of Armenia, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan discussed the issues included in the agenda in a small session.

At the beginning of the session, Prime Minister Pashinyan made a speech of welcome, in which he specifically stated:

"Dear heads of state, I welcome you to Yerevan at the regular session of the CSTO Collective Security Council. The presidency of the Republic of Armenia in the CSTO ends today. It was a hectic period. We celebrated the 30th anniversary of the signing of the Collective Security Treaty and the 20th anniversary of the creation of CSTO.

Contrary to jubilee people, unfortunately, our mood is not jubilee at all. During the last two years, CSTO member country Armenia has been subjected to aggression by Azerbaijan at least three times.

It is saddening that Armenia's membership in the CSTO did not stop Azerbaijan from resorting to aggressive actions, and even more so that, until today, we have not been able to decide on the CSTO's response to Azerbaijan's aggression against Armenia. These facts significantly damage the reputation of CSTO both inside and outside our country, and I consider this the primary failure of Armenia's presidency in CSTO. I can say the same about the facts of the escalation of the situation on the border of our allies, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

At the same time, I must also mention our successful actions. I am referring to the operative response of the CSTO to the request of the President of Kazakhstan, Mr. Tokaev, to help restore law and order in their country in January of this year. In this case, we solved the problem overnight, which allowed Kazakhstan to avoid internal chaos.

I congratulate Kasim-Jomart Kemeli Tokaev on his re-election as the President of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Friends, the agenda for today's meeting is complete. I hope we coordinate our allied approaches and achieve coordinated collective interaction on current issues.

I should also mention that Stanislav Vasilii Zas is finishing his three-year term as CSTO General Secretary. I want to thank him for his conscientious work.

Since the beginning of 2023, in the next three years, the duties of the CSTO Secretary General will be performed by the representative of Kazakhstan, Imangali Nurgali Tasmagambetov; I think it will be justified if the honorable Kasim-Jomart Tokayev introduces him to us.

Co-workers,

I suggest we immediately go to the substantive issues on the agenda and discuss the format of our session."

Then the leaders of the CSTO countries made speeches. Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan stated in his main speech.

"Dear colleagues, today we will summarize the results of Armenia's presidency in the CSTO, and we will hear the priorities of Belarus' upcoming presidency. Our presidency lasted almost 14 months. This period coincided with significant upheavals, both globally and regionally.

Unfortunately, all over the world and especially in our region, not only is there no reduction in the risk of conflicts, but also a continuous increase in tension is recorded, with obvious tendencies to accumulate even more extensive and more comprehensive problems.

As you know, from September 13 to 14 of this year, the Republic of Armenia faced an unjustified and unprovoked aggression by Azerbaijan, which led not only to the occupation of some sovereign territories of Armenia but also to losses among military personnel, as well as civilians, and significant destruction of civil infrastructure.

Azerbaijan's repeated aggression, and in particular the fact that we have not been able to decide on CSTO's response to said aggression, raises fundamental questions that are extremely important both for CSTO and the perception of the organization among Armenian society.

Establishing the CSTO zone of responsibility in the Republic of Armenia is of fundamental importance to us. Such a formulation may seem strange, but after studying our recent discussions, we have concluded that this is extremely important.

Our position is as follows: according to the Almaty Declaration of December 21, 1991, the CIS constituent countries, as independent states, recognized each other's territorial integrity and the inviolability of existing borders. This means that the countries mentioned above became separate with the administrative barriers between the republics during the years of the Soviet Union. In other words, the former administrative borders became state borders, and these borders determined the territories of the countries mentioned above. With these borders, the Republic of Armenia became a member of the United Nations and the CSTO.

Since May 11, 2021, Azerbaijan has used armed forces three times and occupied about 140 square kilometers of the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia. It happened on May 11, November 14, 2021, and September 13, 2022.

Thus, according to UN Resolution No. 3314 of December 14, 1974, the above actions of Azerbaijan are considered aggression.

What could we expect from CSTO about this? This fact is recorded in the form of a formulated political assessment. Refraining from such an assessment, saying there is no border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, means claiming that there is no zone of responsibility for the Collective Security Treaty Organization. If there is no zone of responsibility, then there is no organization. At least, this is how it can be interpreted.

These nuances are also important because they play a decisive role in further collective actions. In this context, I would like to respond to the comments according to which Armenia is trying to involve the CSTO countries in the war with Azerbaijan. This is speculation because Armenia cannot be interested in war, if only because it has suffered enough from wars, including the one in September this year.

The political assessment of the above events is necessary from a moral point of view because it should be a logical manifestation of alliance relations. Of course, this is also important from the point of view of restoring the territorial integrity of our country, but this aspiration does not mean military intervention. According to Article 3 of the CSTO Charter, priority is given to political measures to protect the member states' territorial integrity collectively.

For this very reason, Armenia also proposes to speed up the necessary political and diplomatic work with the Azerbaijani side, aimed at the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of the Azerbaijani troops from the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia, to their original positions in 2021, by the decision of the CSTO Collective Security Council. as of May 11.

Such a position is essential not only for restoring the territorial integrity of the Republic of Armenia but also for restraining Azerbaijan from further aggressive actions against our country. The fact that danger of Azerbaijan's new aggression against Armenia's territorial integrity remains; on October 28, CSTO General Secretary Stanislav Vasilii Zas announced at the extraordinary session of the CSTO Collective Security Council. In these conditions, the lack of a clear political assessment of the situation and failure to implement the aforementioned decision may mean CSTO's refusal of alliance obligations and be interpreted by Azerbaijan as CSTO's green light for further aggression against Armenia.

And this contradicts not only the letter but also the spirit and meaning of the fundamental documents of the CSTO. Therefore, based on this, dear colleagues, at this moment, I think that the draft "On the declaration of the CSTO Collective Security Council and joint measures to assist the Republic of Armenia" presented for signing has not been sufficiently finalized. In this form, I am still waiting to be ready to sign the documents.

Dear Heads of State, quite a lot of comments have appeared recently about the history of the Nagorno-Karabakh problem. However, I want to avoid touching on the genre of historical excursion, not because I have nothing to say about it, but because today the analysis of the current situation is more critical.

On November 9, 2020, with the efforts of the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, the tripartite declaration of the leaders of Russia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan was adopted, which was followed by many documents, statements, comments on the need to observe all points of the tripartite declaration of November 9, 2020.

This means that not all points of the tripartite declaration are being observed, but it does not say who and which side is not fulfilling those points and agreements.

Today I will summarize this issue because I have to state that, as they say, there has never been a reason to discuss this in a package way.

Point 1 of the tripartite statement states: "A complete cease-fire and cessation of all military operations in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict zone is announced: on November 10, 2020, from 00:00 Moscow time, the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Republic of Armenia, from now on referred to as the Parties, stand in their occupied positions."

Paragraph 3 of the same statement states: "A peacekeeping force of the Russian Federation is stationed along the contact line and along the Lachin Corridor in Nagorno-Karabakh, numbering 1,960 soldiers with firearms, 90 armored personnel carriers, 380 units of automobiles and special equipment."

These points clearly define Nagorno Karabakh, a line of contact in NK, and a Lachin Corridor. A peacekeeping force is deployed along the Line of Contact and Lachin Corridor, forming a peacekeeping zone of responsibility. The parties remain in their positions, except in Kelbajar, Aghdam, and Lachin regions, by paragraphs 2 and 6 of the declaration.

Violating these points, Azerbaijan declares that Nagorno-Karabakh does not exist, contrary to the document signed by the President of Azerbaijan.

Violating the ceasefire and the cessation of all military operations, and the above agreement on the parties to stop at their occupied positions, Azerbaijan already in December 2020 illegally occupied the Khtsaberd and Hin Tagher settlements of Nagorno Karabakh, as well as their adjacent areas.

Azerbaijan also carried out a similar occupation in March 2022, breaking the line of contact and invading the area of ​​responsibility of the Russian Federation's peacekeeping forces in Nagorno-Karabakh, in the direction of Parukh village. Azerbaijan violates the ceasefire regime almost daily, including on the contact line.

It should be noted that during the occupation of Khtsaberd village, in the presence of Russian peacekeepers, Azerbaijan captured 66 Armenian soldiers, also in the presence of Russian peacekeepers. In other words, both of these operations took place in the presence of Russian peacekeepers.

Violating point 8 of the statement of November 9, 2020, which states: "The exchange of prisoners of war, hostages and other held persons, as well as bodies of the dead, is being carried out," Azerbaijan has not returned at least 33 prisoners of war, hostages and other held persons to Armenia.

Point 6 of the statement of November 9, 2020, states: "The Lachin Corridor (5 km wide), which will ensure the connection of Nagorno Karabakh with Armenia and bypass the city of Shushi at the same time, remains under the control of the peacekeeping troops of the Russian Federation." Until now, the Lachin Corridor is not entirely under the control of the Russian peacekeeping troops, and the Azerbaijani army maintains several positions in the Lachin Corridor.

Point 7 of the statement of November 9, 2020, states: "Internally displaced persons and refugees are returning to the Nagorno-Karabakh territory and surrounding regions under the supervision of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees." Violating this clause, Azerbaijan obstructs the entry of representatives of the United Nations, in particular, the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, into Nagorno-Karabakh.

Point 9 of November 9, 2020, statement states: "All economic and transport links in the region are blocked. The Republic of Armenia guarantees the safety of transport communication between the western parts of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Autonomous Republic of Nakhichevan to organize the smooth movement of citizens, vehicles, and cargo in both directions. The bodies of the border guard service of the FSB of Russia carry out control over transport communication.

With the agreement between the parties, the construction of new transport links connecting the Autonomous Republic of Nakhichevan with the western regions of Azerbaijan will be ensured."

The president of Azerbaijan constantly insists that some corridor should be created through the territory of Armenia and accuses Armenia of not fulfilling the point mentioned above. I specifically quoted paragraph 9 of the tripartite declaration to show the obvious: there is no word "corridor" there, and nothing is said about a corridor.

This paragraph, as you have seen, refers to the unblocking of all economic and transport links in the region, and only in this context is the transport link between the western regions of Azerbaijan and the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic mentioned. This section is part of the process of unblocking transport and economic communications in the area.

This is also evident from the tripartite statement of January 11, 2021, which clarifies paragraph 9 of the trilateral information of November 9, 2020, a document describing the meaning of this paragraph.

So, the accusations against Armenia regarding the violation of Clause 9 of the November 9, 2020, statement are entirely groundless. In this matter, Armenia has only one obligation, to provide a transport connection between the western regions of Azerbaijan and the Autonomous Republic of Nakhichevan. At the same time, no specific route is mentioned in the November 9 announcement or any other announcement.

The Republic of Armenia has always prepared to provide such communication. For this purpose, the draft decision of the RA Government on establishing checkpoints on the Armenian-Azerbaijani border has been circulated. As a result of this decision, Azerbaijan can connect with the Autonomous Republic of Nakhichevan through the roads of Armenia. This decision is not made only for one reason: Azerbaijan does not want this path.

This means that Armenia fully fulfills its obligation, and Azerbaijan does not want to take advantage of the opportunity. At the same time, such refusal is entirely incomprehensible. If Azerbaijan wants peace and aims to achieve peace, as it claims, then let's open those checkpoints and roads and create opportunities for people. It is clear that, at first, they will be confused; they will think. Still, when they are convinced of the sincerity of the intentions, then both the citizens of Armenia and the citizens of Azerbaijan will start using this new opportunity of transportation; I am sure that the citizens of Russia and our other countries will also.

As for the construction of new roads, according to the tripartite declaration of November 9, 2020, or any other statement or document, the Republic of Armenia has no such obligations. Clause 9 of the order provides for such a possibility by agreement of the parties. And the Republic of Armenia is ready to give its consent. And the deal did not take place only for one reason: Azerbaijan continues its aggressive rhetoric and actions contrary to the agreements reached and signed statements. It is rhetoric about the corridor; you know about it. Unfortunately, some of our partners are somehow misled or provoked, and sometimes they agree to accept documents where such wording is used.

One more nuance: point 9 states that the bodies of the border guard service of the FSB of Russia carry out the control over transport communication. This point is further clarified in the Decree No. 695 of the President of the Russian Federation dated November 10, 2020, "On measures aimed at maintaining peace in Nagorno-Karabakh," paragraph 3 of which states: "The Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation controls the transport communication of the Republic of Armenia and Azerbaijan" to ensure the unhindered movement of citizens, vehicles and goods in both directions between the western regions of the Republic and the Autonomous Republic of Nakhichevan.

In other words, there is no question and cannot be about control over our sovereign territory and the alienation of any of our sovereign functions; it is about control over the implementation of agreements; by the way, when we say the deal, we must understand the Declaration, because, naturally, there can be no other agreements. And only this function can be performed by the FSB border service of the Russian Federation. And as I understood, we talked about it along the way; we have a common approach to this issue.

The president of Azerbaijan also accuses Armenia of the fact that our army is in Nagorno-Karabakh. Again, I want to emphasize that there is no Armenian army in Nagorno Karabakh; there is a Nagorno Karabakh defense army. In my understanding, the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh have an army only and only because of the danger of being subjected to genocide.

At the same time, during the tripartite meeting held in Sochi on October 31, I presented the proposal of the Nagorno-Karabakh authorities on this topic: to create a demilitarized zone around Nagorno-Karabakh with international guarantees, as a result of which Nagorno-Karabakh may not need a defense army of such a scale. This proposal remains valid.

Dear heads of state, this is a small part of the accumulated topics that I wanted to share with you. But I don't want to waste time, and now, I want to thank you for your attention."

Then, in the expanded session, the chairmanship of the CSTO was officially transferred from Armenia to Belarus. The head of that country, Alexander Lukashenko, presented Belarus's priorities during the upcoming presidency, after which the agreed documents were submitted for signing. Prime Minister Pashinyan noted that, as he already said in his speech, two papers were not signed. They are planned to be finalized and submitted for signature.