The Karabakh issue is not a territorial issue for Armenia. In that sense, the security and rights of Karabakh Armenians are fundamental to us. In one of his speeches in the National Assembly, Prime Minister Pashinyan mentioned that there is an idea to separate the Nagorno-Karabakh issue from Armenia-Azerbaijan relations. We must now actively discuss that option and decide how to proceed, Secretary of the Security Council of Armenia Armen Gevorgyan said in an interview with Armenpress.
Mr. Grigoryan, geopolitical centers have recently been making assessments that there is a serious possibility of normalizing Armenia-Azerbaijan relations and thus establishing long-term peace and stability in the region. Does the government of Armenia see such an opportunity?
The fact that the Armenian government has declared the peace agenda as a state strategy and policy is a direct evidence that we see such an opportunity. That possibility becomes even more grounded when we consider that the Armenian government, the political majority, is taking responsibility for the implementation of the peace agenda, realizing that it is not an easy way. I think the commitment of the Armenian government and the political majority to the peace agenda is an important factor for the assessments coming from different international platforms.
What is the road map you see for the implementation of the peace agenda?
That agenda is known. border delimitation and border security level raising works with Azerbaijan, which has already started, and the second session of the border delimitation and security commission is scheduled in Moscow in the second half of August, opening of regional communications...
Azerbaijan claims that Armenia is delaying the solution of these issues.
The session of the delimitation and border security commission was scheduled for the second half of August at the proposal of the Azerbaijani side. The Armenian side was ready for the second meeting in June and July. We have repeatedly expressed our willingness to open regional communications. Recently, the package of proposals we conveyed through diplomatic channels in December 2021 appeared on the internet, which is still valid today. We have made several other proposals and are very interested in the opening of 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 emphasized the possibility of only one option, and we need to find the most efficient route, because the functionality and attractiveness of the "Armenian Crossroads" project depends on it. We notice some progress in the trilateral working group on the issue of communications, which is co-chaired by the deputy prime ministers of Russia, Armenia and Azerbaijan, and we are ready to continue in the same spirit.
Does establishing peace with Azerbaijan consist of these two steps? What will be the status of Karabakh?
No, the culmination of the road map and peace agenda you mentioned is, of course, the signing of the peace treaty with Azerbaijan. You know that Azerbaijan presented five points in this regard and the Republic of Armenia stated that there is nothing unacceptable in them.
Including the recognition of the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan? In other words, does Armenia recognize the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and has no territorial claims?
Armenia recognizes the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan at least due to the fact that it is part of our legislation. We have said many times that Armenia and Azerbaijan have recognized each other's territorial integrity and inviolability of borders by the agreement on the formation of the CIS signed in 1991 and later ratified. And this is part of the legislation of both Armenia and Azerbaijan today. It should be expressed at the bilateral level as well. And as we said, there is nothing unacceptable for us in such a perspective, and Armenia, yes, has no territorial claims from Azerbaijan.
And Karabakh, what will be the status of Karabakh?
We have repeatedly said that the Karabakh issue is not a territorial issue for us. In that sense, the security and rights of Karabakh Armenians are fundamental for us. In one of his speeches in the National Assembly, Prime Minister Pashinyan mentioned that there is an idea to separate the Nagorno-Karabakh issue from Armenia-Azerbaijan relations. We must now actively discuss that option and decide how to proceed.
In other words, to sign a peace treaty with Azerbaijan without a final solution to the Nagorno-Karabakh issue?
There is also such an idea. But at this moment it is too early to talk about any such resolution.
What security guarantees will there be for the Nagorno-Karabakh Armenians?
There is an international guarantee for ensuring the security of NK Armenians, which is the presence of the peacekeeping troops of the Russian Federation. We need to work on the further improvement of that guarantee, but the demilitarization of the Nagorno-Karabakh problem is an important idea.
Generally speaking, is Armenia ready to sign a peace treaty with Azerbaijan?
Generally speaking, I think we're going in that way.
And the return of the POWs, the clarification of the fate of the missing persons?
The resolution of humanitarian issues is a necessary component of peace. Including issues of preservation of cultural heritage. All those questions, of course, need to be addressed. By the way, in the last two years, Armenia has transferred 130 bodies of Azerbaijanis missing since the first Karabakh war to Azerbaijan. We are ready to cooperate actively on this issue as well and we expect the same from Azerbaijan. The Armenian side has more than 770 missing persons since the first Karabakh war. The number of our missing persons in the 44-day war is 203.
Yesterday, the Ministry of Territorial Administration and Infrastructure announced that the reconstruction of the Kornidzor-Tegh-M12 highway is planned to begin in August. Is that the new Lachine Corridor route? And when will the construction be finished?
Yes. The construction will be completed within the time limit stipulated by the trilateral statement of November 9, 2020.
How do you assess the prospects of Armenia-Turkey relations?
The special representatives of the two countries have reached concrete agreements, that is, to open the border for citizens of third countries and to start air cargo transportation between the two countries. In a telephone conversation held on July 11, the Prime Minister of Armenia and the President of Turkey agreed to implement these agreements and take further steps. It is clear that we will remain committed to those agreements, especially given that both Russia, the USA, France, Iran, Georgia, and the EU support the process of normalization of Armenia-Turkey relations.