Armenian PM interview: return of refugees, future status of Karabakh, internal political tension
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan told Russia’s TASS that security guarantees must be given to Armenian refugees to return to Karabakh villages which have come under the control of Azerbaijan.
During the interview, he also said it is necessary to continue the negotiation process on the settlement of the Karabakh conflict within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmanship.
Pashinyan says the position of the Armenian side has not changed on the issue of Karabakh. He also touched on the internal political situation in the country since the signing of the joint statement on the cessation of hostilities in the conflict zone.
- More than 11,000 people return to homes in Nagorno-Karabakh
- Security of Karabakh residents, implementation of truce – summary of Russian FM Lavrov’s visit to Yerevan
On Armenian refugees
The Armenian Prime Minister stated that within the framework of the trilateral agreement, there is an agreement on the return of Armenians to their homes in the regions of Nagorno-Karabakh that came under the control of Azerbaijan: “On this point, it is necessary to create specific mechanisms, specific security guarantees, and it is necessary to ensure and organize this entire process. This process should become a priority for the negotiation process ”.
Earlier, the Armenian government published a list of settlements – cities and villages (total – 121) on the territory of Karabakh, which, according to the trilateral agreement of November 10, came under the control of Azerbaijan.
On the length of stay of peacekeepers in the region
The agreement on the armistice in Nagorno-Karabakh, signed by the leaders of Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan, provides for the introduction of Russian peacekeepers into the region, who will monitor the ceasefire for five years. In addition, the possibility of automatically extending the presence of peacekeepers is provided for.
“Within a five-year period, of course, we need to manage to create guarantees of security and stability in the region. But since the Karabakh conflict is protracted, I do not think that the period of stay of the Russian peacekeepers will be limited to five years,” Pashinyan said.
At this point, according to the prime minister, it is important to ensure stability in Nagorno-Karabakh and in the region and ensure the security of the citizens of Karabakh: “I hope that the Russian peacekeepers will act successfully and will be able to really implement this mission.”
Continuing the negotiation process
“The negotiation process should continue in the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmanship, and those issues that are not resolved in the joint statement [meaning the status of Nagorno-Karabakh] should be the subject of [discussion] within the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmanship. You know Armenia’s position on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh, and our position, of course, has not changed,” Pashinyan said. At the same time, he believes that at the moment there are more operational issues that should be resolved:
“I mean a complete exchange of prisoners and detainees. There is the question of the missing, there is the question of the exchange of bodies of the dead. I think at the moment we should focus on these issues.”
For several days now, hundreds of parents of soldiers who disappeared in the Karabakh war have been holding rallies near the Defense Ministry in Yerevan. They demand to provide information about their children.
The parents say they are only fed “empty promises.”
As a result, PM Pashinyan met with them and stated that he felt guilty. He admitted that government agencies still, for objective and subjective reasons, have not worked effectively enough to solve their problems: “We perceive this as a common pain, and I hope that at least a significant part of these people, our brothers, we can find and return.”
On the internal political situation
In Armenia, following the truce agreement a series of protest waves broke out. Many consider the truce a ‘traitorous document’, and effectively entails the voluntary surrender of Karabakh to Azerbaijan.
The demonstrators demanded the resignation of the prime minister, chanting “Nikol, go away” and “Nikol is a traitor!” 17 united opposition parties, the president of Armenia and even the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences have asked PM Pashinyan to resign voluntarily.
Pashinyan says that while there is some internal political tension, he does not intend to leave:
“The fact is that the calls made by the opposition do not receive support from the Armenian public. This needs to be stated.”
According to the prime minister, the Armenian society agrees that by the time this document was signed, “there was no real alternative that would be more favorable for us.”
Speaking about the possibility of holding early parliamentary elections and a change of power, the PM recalled that he had published a 6-month roadmap, that is, an action program to stabilize the situation: “After that, we will consult with our society, people, political forces and decide on further events and further steps.”