Remarks by Ambassador Ferit Hoxha at the Security Council meeting on Armenia – Azerbaijan

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16 August 2023

Thank you, Madame President,

I thank Ms. Wosornu for the briefing.

Since the last SC meeting on this issue in December of the last year, there have been new developments, some of them positive and very encouraging.

We welcome and applaud the intensification of the Armenia-Azerbaijan normalization process. Following the negotiations on a peace treaty that were held in the United States in early May, leaders’ meetings have taken place in Brussels and other European capitals.

The leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan have reaffirmed publicly their firm commitment to the 1991 Almaty Declaration and the territorial integrity of the two countries.

Given the heavy past, this firm commitment by both countries to respecting each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity as neighbors, and their readiness to deal with and solve the disputes by peaceful means, based on the respect of the UN Charter and International Law, is of paramount importance.

We welcome the commitment of both parties to a longer-term negotiation plan for a comprehensive peace agreement. As stated by the President of the European Union, Charles Michel, only one month ago, current efforts represent “one of the most comprehensive and vigorous stages of negotiations between Armenia and Azerbaijan.”

In this respect, we welcome plans for the construction of a railway connection, which should take place without delay. We want to believe that parties will be swift to take the offer and the readiness of the EU to contribute financially for this project.

Establishing the rail link could prove a strong confidence-building measure and symbolise cooperation to advance shared interests, laying the groundwork for further diplomatic and economic collaboration between Azerbaijan and Armenia.

In our view, this what both countries need, what their populations deserve and what the region must have.

Madame President,

We are well aware that the road is still uphill and bumpy, and a number of problems still persist.

As we just heard from Ms. Wosornu, parties continue to express serious concerns, tensions have continued near the Armenian-Azerbaijani border and there are important pending issues that need particular and continued attention.

We have been following the recent developments in the Latchin road. We note that on this issue, the positions of the two countries differ sharply. From January to August of this year, there have been close to 60 letters addressed by both parties to the Security Council.

While each side develops its own narrative on the situation, one aspect strikes more than anything: a profound lack of trust between the parties on the best ways to dealing with the situations of the Azerbaijani citizens of Armenian descent living in the country, and on the urgent need for the parties to get together and work seriously to resolve all related issues.

We reiterate our principled position that humanitarian needs must not be politicized; they must not be used to resonate other grievances.

Humanitarian needs must only be met.

We are absolutely confident that there is enough room to discuss on one hand, openly and seriously, all issues related to the expressed humanitarian concerns, the freedom of the movement through the Latchin road, including by exploring other possibilities, and on the other hand, any legitimate security concerns.

When humanitarian issues are at stake, everything must be done, every option must be explored including, in this respect, the use of Aghdam-Khankendi road – as already proposed – for the same and only purpose, the delivery of goods to the region to respond quickly and responsibly.

We strongly encourage efforts from both sides to ensure the needs of the population are met.

In a broader prospect, we think that parties should work with a sense of urgency to deal with all other issues, to delimitate their border, demine and demilitarize it, through good faith cooperation, in order to provide the necessary sense of security, avoid accidents and incidents which, given the volatility of the situation, could lead quickly to heightened tensions and clashes. Parties should avoid unnecessary speculation and heightened rhetoric and above all serve the main purpose: advance towards building a future in cooperation and friendship.

We know that the legacy of 30 years of a painful frozen conflict will not be overcome overnight. But the new realities and the determination shown recently by the parties must be fully exploited.

In the most friendly and sincere way, we urge both parties that instead of competing on the communication front in a non-productive blame game, they should get together and work to establish more cooperation, more contacts at various levels, make steps that will establish and increase confidence and help address all issues.

Nothing should come across this prospect, which in our view, is the only one conducive to having a new and positive reality in the Armenia-Azerbaijani relations.

In this respect, we also encourage direct talks between the representatives of the Armenian community in Azerbaijan and the Government.

Let me end by reiterating the importance of pursuing the path of diplomacy as the best way to move forward and overcome the bitter legacy of a conflict that has kept apart the people of two neighboring countries, with huge consequences.

It is high time to invest in shared benefits.

Thank you!


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