“Identical approaches to regional security”: Pashinyan on negotiations with Putin
Results of Putin-Pashinyan talks
The Prime Minister of Armenia summed up the results of his recent talks with the President of Russia. Nikol Pashinyan considers his visit productive, stressing that during his two-day visit “key issues on the bilateral agenda” were discussed, which is also reflected in the joint statement signed with Putin.
The prime minister discussed the issues that concern the Armenian society most of all – the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the effectiveness of the activities of Russian peacekeepers in NK. He also spoke about what his government considers a priority – in particular, the participation of the OSCE Minsk Group in peace negotiations with Azerbaijan, unblocking regional communications.
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“There is neither a ready project, nor a draft to resolve the conflict”
According to Pashinyan, after November 9, 2020, when the statement on the cessation of hostilities in Karabakh was signed, no document on the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict was discussed at the negotiating table:
“I say confidently that during this period there were no, and at the moment there are no, projects on the Nagorno-Karabakh settlement. There is not even a draft that lies on the table or is in circulation”.
The prime minister ruled out the possibility of signing any document without discussing it in society and gave guarantees that “the fate of Artsakh cannot be decided behind people’s backs”.
In response to accusations that this has already happened – that is, the signing of the tripartite declaration of November 9 on the cessation of hostilities – the Prime Minister said that this was a “strange comparison”:
“During the war, within hours, sometimes minutes, it was necessary to make a decision in order to save the lives of thousands of Artsakh residents, 25,000 soldiers, to avoid the scenario of ‘no more Armenians in Artsakh’. Comparisons are simply inappropriate.
All our policies and steps are aimed at not having to make decisions in such conditions”.
“The contribution of Russian peacekeepers is invaluable”
The prime minister believes that along with the process of negotiations on the settlement of the conflict, it is necessary to ensure the safety of the residents of Nagorno-Karabakh. And the “key component” of security, according to him, is the uninterrupted functioning of the Lachin corridor connecting NK with Armenia.
And in this sense, Pashinyan emphasized the contribution of the Russian peacekeeping forces stationed in Nagorno-Karabakh. Although he acknowledges, “the need to improve the efficiency of their activities”. Thus, he once again touched upon the capture by Azerbaijani Armed Forces of the territories in NK, which are under the responsibility of Russian peacekeepers.
He expressed hope that “the Russian peacekeeping contingent in Nagorno-Karabakh will ensure the complete withdrawal of Azerbaijani units” from this zone.
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“Talks about the dissolution of the Minsk Group are unfounded”
In the context of the positive results of the talks with Putin, the Armenian prime minister also spoke about the “emphasis on the importance of the international mandate of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairs in the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict” in the signed joint statement.
The OSCE Minsk Group was established in 1992. This is a group of OSCE member states that carried out a mediating role in the negotiations on the Karabakh conflict until the start of the 2020 war. The Minsk Group includes Germany, Italy, Finland, Sweden, Belarus, Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan. Russia, the USA and France are the group’s co-chairs.
Armenia insists on continuing negotiations on the Karabakh conflict and even on a peace agreement with Azerbaijan in the format of the OSCE Minsk Group, despite its long inactivity. Azerbaijani authorities believe that the group has not fulfilled the mission assigned to it, and the Karabakh conflict has already been resolved by military means, therefore, there is no need for its mediation.
According to the Prime Minister of Armenia, it is unreasonable to believe that the Minsk Group has been disbanded. In confirmation of his words, he recalled that before his visit to Moscow, all three co-chairs of the group arrived in Yerevan – from Russia, France and the United States. Moreover, all three diplomats stressed “commitment to their mandate”. As Pashinyan put it, the events in Ukraine “created obstacles for their joint work”, but this does not mean giving up their powers:
“The fact that even in these conditions the co-chairs are acting, visiting the region and reaffirming their commitment to support the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict at the political level, inspires good reason for optimism”.
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“Special attention was paid to security issues”
According to Pashinyan, during the meetings in Russia, special attention was paid to issues of regional security and stability. And the approaches of the Russian side on them completely coincide with the opinion of the Armenian side.
“We have reached important agreements on the principles of unblocking regional communications”, Pashinyan stressed.
He reaffirmed Armenia’s readiness “a day earlier” to start building a railway that will connect the East with the West. Pashinyan hopes that the trilateral working group, coordinated by the deputy prime ministers of Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan, will soon “work through and agree” the necessary documents to start the process.
Speaking about the productivity of Pashinyan’s visit and to what extent it met the expectations of the Armenian side, political observer Hakob Badalyan assessed the overall picture makes it seem relatively successful, and the joint statement of the leaders appears “balanced”.
“If someone thought that the Prime Minister of Armenia would go [to Moscow] and send Putin to hell, or not go and send him to hell, this, of course, is an opinion, but it has nothing to do with politics.
The point, however, is that a balanced statement is not enough on its own, what matters is what kind of work follows it. In the end, it is clear that the Russian side will try to get the maximum for itself, and the Armenian side, of course, will try to maintain this relative balance and, of course, in turn, will try to achieve the maximum.
Everything depends on the ability of the Armenian side to work effectively at the level “below Putin”. The situation for the Armenian side has been rather complicated for more than ten years for a number of reasons – that both had to do with domestic policy issues in Armenia and Russia’s own issues. But, oddly enough, the fact that Russia is in a difficult situation today can be beneficial for Armenia”.