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“Yerevan strengthens security ties with the US” – Secretary of the Security Council

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Armen Grigoryan’s interview with Voice of America

It is possible that the meeting between Pashinyan and Aliyev scheduled for July 21 in Brussels will take place earlier. Secretary of the Security Council of Armenia Armen Grigoryan stated this in an interview with the Armenian service of the Voice of America. However, the government has not yet received information about changing the date of the meeting.

Grigoryan, who is in the United States on a working visit, also talked about strengthening cooperation with the United States on security issues, the possibility of a new war, Armenian-Azerbaijani negotiations, the functions of Russian peacekeepers and Russia’s fulfillment of its obligations.

About cooperation with the USA. Does the alliance with Russia hinder Armenia?

The Secretary of the Security Council has been in the United States since July 4, obviously with a broad agenda for the visit. In an interview, he emphasized that Armenia uses “existing platforms” to expand cooperation with the United States in the field of security. Options are also being discussed on how to “open new doors”.

“We have made great progress. The results will be visible in the long run. Armenia is ready to move forward. Currently, Yerevan is seeking to deepen and expand the bilateral agenda with the United States,” he said.

When asked whether the fact that Armenia is a member of economic and military unions operating under the auspices of Russia hinders cooperation with the Americans, he replied that “at the moment there are no such problems.”

Grigoryan sees great potential for intensifying and strengthening the Armenian-American relations. Among the areas of cooperation, he singled out the economy and energy, while he assured that everything would be discussed – from minor issues to “broad cooperation in the field of security.”

On the CSTO and Russia: “We are waiting for the solution of the problems that have arisen”

Grigoryan said that Armenia openly discusses the problems that have arisen with the CSTO, a military alliance operating under the auspices of Russia, with the member countries of the structure. And to search for solutions, he uses the platforms of the organization itself.

The members of the CSTO are Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. The question of the effectiveness of the organization and the meaning of Armenia’s membership in it arose before the Pashinyan government in May 2021. Then the Armenian authorities for the first time announced the invasion of the Azerbaijani Armed Forces into its sovereign territory, but the organization did not respond to a request for military assistance to an ally. Then the situation repeated itself, which further deepened the crisis of relations. At the same time, Armenia tried to avoid talking about leaving the CSTO. But the country’s leadership has repeatedly suggested that “the CSTO is leaving Armenia.”

“We see that the CSTO member states in a certain way, at least publicly, declare the legitimacy of the problems raised by Armenia [the President of Belarus made such a statement – JAMnews]. It is very important that our partners understand the legitimacy of the issues we raise. And we expect these problems to be resolved,” Grigoryan said.

According to him, the issue of Russia’s unfulfilled obligation to supply weapons, for which it was paid, remains on the agenda of the Armenian-Russian relations:

“All problems must be openly and calmly discussed with our partners in order to find a solution. These problems are of strategic importance for Armenia. I hope that the partners have an understanding of how important these problems are for the Armenian side, and that they will be resolved.”

Armen Grigoryan’s interview with Voice of America

On a possible war: “All responsibility for the escalation lies with Azerbaijan”

According to Grigoryan, the ongoing war and geopolitical processes in Ukraine have a negative impact on the South Caucasus.

“These processes are superimposed by the maximalist policy of Azerbaijan, military rhetoric and steps taken in the form of various escalations. Azerbaijan follows this path and tries to destabilize the region. All responsibility for the escalation lies with Azerbaijan,” he said, answering a question about the likelihood of a new war.

On negotiations with Azerbaijan: “There are still unresolved issues”

During the interview, the Secretary of the Security Council touched upon key issues on the settlement of Armenian-Azerbaijani relations:

  • “There are issues that have not yet been resolved, but Yerevan is firmly committed to the peace agenda and is interested in the possibility of a peace agreement as soon as possible.”
  • “The security and rights of the Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh do not concern the territories, but the people, their rights and security.”
  • “It is necessary to create international mechanisms for Stepanakert and Baku to discuss the security and rights of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh. There is an opportunity to create such a mechanism.”
  • “The international community must be involved in overcoming the conflict, because without an international mechanism it is very difficult to imagine this.”
  • “There are many unresolved problems in the negotiation process. One of the most important issues is the issue of border delimitation. Will it take place on the basis of the map of the General Staff of the USSR Armed Forces of 1975? There is no final agreement on the cards yet.”
  • “The unblocking of roads will mean the implementation of the concept of the “Armenian Crossroads”. This also includes the construction of the North-South highway. Armenia, as a country, will become a more active participant in the regional trade turnover, which will bring it additional income, and economic activity can create additional security guarantees.”

Armen Grigoryan’s interview with Voice of America

“Armenia did not deviate from its obligations”

Grigoryan was asked if his statement about Armenia’s control of its roads after the unblocking of regional communications is an attempt to amend the November 9 statement [the document that marked the end of the war in Karabakh in 2020]. He gave a negative answer, stressing that the specific functions of the Russian services were enshrined in a decree of the President of the Russian Federation of November 10.

According to a tripartite document signed by the leaders of Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan, after the unblocking of regional communications, “transport communications are controlled by the border service of the FSB of Russia.” However, the Armenian authorities and personally Armen Grigoryan say that the roads provided by Armenia will be under its sovereign control.

The Secretary of the Security Council explains that the border service of Russia should only monitor whether Armenia is fulfilling its obligations or not.

“In other words, they have been given the function to make sure that the road is unblocked, that Armenia does not deviate from fulfilling its obligations. And this is subject to verification, for example, with the help of cameras,” he stressed.

“Russian peacekeepers must fulfill their function”

According to the same agreement, Grigoryan recalls, Russian peacekeepers must ensure the safety of the Armenians living in Nagorno-Karabakh. However, since December last year, the Lachin corridor has been blocked, the only road connecting Nagorno-Karabakh with the outside world has been closed. And this is a “serious problem”. The expectations of the Armenian side regarding the deployment of Russian peacekeepers in NK did not come true.

He stressed that according to the November 2020 statement, the “presence of Azerbaijan” was not supposed to be in the Lachin corridor, Russian peacekeepers were supposed to ensure free movement along the corridor:

“Today there is no such movement. And we expect that the peacekeepers will fulfill their mission in full, so that the people living in Nagorno-Karabakh would not experience a humanitarian crisis. The ongoing crisis is deepening.”

“Oskanyan had this opportunity for 10 years”

Commenting on the proposal of former Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanyan to form a group of diplomats and negotiate with Azerbaijan, Grigoryan stressed:

“Vardan Oskanyan had a corresponding opportunity during his ten years in office, but if he could not do it in ten years, how will he do it in three months? The attitude towards the state is also surprising, that is, it is proposed to create a second state or a state institution for such questions. This is very frivolous. I don’t think it should be a discussion point.”

The former foreign minister of Armenia, who for 10 years participated in the negotiations on the settlement of the Karabakh conflict, addressed the current authorities of the country: “Give me, a group of diplomats, a chance, keep quiet for two or three months, we will take responsibility. I assure you that there will be serious progress in the negotiations, a sharp turn in favor of Armenia.”

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Armen Grigoryan’s interview with Voice of America

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