One year since the signing of armistice with Azerbaijan: Pashinyan on the post-war realities
Interview of PM Pashinyan one year since second Karabakh war armstice
November 10 will mark exactly one year since the signing of the trilateral peace agreement by the leaders of Russia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan. The Prime Minister of Armenia, on the air of the Public Television, commented on the situation that emerged after the war, touched upon the points of the trilateral document and their implementation by the parties to the conflict. Nikol Pashinyan also spoke about a peace treaty and demarcation of borders with Azerbaijan, the return of Armenian prisoners, the “3 + 3” format, and rumors of a meeting with President Aliyev.
The main theses of the interview with the Prime Minister of Armenia.
- Op-ed: Armenia and Azerbaijan have no say, Russia has the final word
- Are Yerevan and Baku about to sign new agreements? Rumors, statements and denials
- How Ilham Aliyev and Nikol Pashinyan see Armenian-Azerbaijani problems
Pashinyan said that throughout the year, Azerbaijan had constantly been violating the ceasefire agreement and this was also recorded by the Russian peacekeepers who are currently stationed in the region after the conclusion of the armistice:
“I hope that these cases will be properly investigated and the necessary measures will be taken. […] After November 9, there were probably only 5-6 days when not a single case of violation of the ceasefire regime was recorded. Can you imagine, only 5-6 days in a whole year?”
Due to violations of the ceasefire by Azerbaijan, 28 people from the Armenian side were killed.
By the time of publication, it was reported that as a result of shelling by the Azerbaijani Armed Forces, another civilian was killed and three were wounded.
Pashinyan positively assesses the deployment of Russian peacekeepers in the region. At the same time, violations of the ceasefire regime and the death of the Armenian military allow him to assume that Azerbaijan is pursuing a policy of “discrediting the activities of peacekeepers”.
Return of the prisoners
According to the prime minister, most of the Armenian prisoners who remain in Azerbaijan were detained after the signing of a trilateral statement, and the eighth paragraph of the document also concerns their return:
“Azerbaijan’s interpretation of who is a prisoner of war and who is not is inappropriate because the statement reads: prisoners of war, hostages, other held persons – that is, almost everyone who is being held against their will, in fact, falls under this paragraph of the statement. At the same time, I want to emphasize that there is no distinction made on whether they were taken prisoner before November 9 or after”.
The prime minister said that intensive work is underway to unblock regional communications, and he hopes that concrete results will be recorded in the near future.
This is not the first time that Pashinyan has emphasized that the topic of the so-called Zangezur Corridor has been closed since November 9, 2020. In Turkey, recently, a statement was made that noting that the “corridor” should be under the control of Armenia.
This is the road running through the southern Syunik region of Armenia, which will connect Azerbaijan with its exclave Nakhichevan. The Armenian side has repeatedly stated that it is ready to unblock communications, but categorically denies the possibility of providing a road that will not be under its sovereign control.
“We can state that regardless of lexical preferences, we are talking about the opening of regional communications”, Pashinyan said.
According to the Prime Minister, the problem is to bring closer and identify the perception of concepts, formulas of expected decisions.
What are the deputy prime ministers discussing
According to Pashinyan, in the course of the last 8 meetings of the Deputy Prime Ministers of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia, a huge amount of work has been done.
A trilateral working group was created in January 2021 to implement the points of the ceasefire agreement signed by the leaders of Armenia, Russia and Azerbaijan. The deputy prime ministers are discussing, in particular, the unblocking of all economic and transport communications.
The working group first studied technical issues: which roads were in use before the conflict, which roads can be built now.
According to Pashinyan, as a result, Azerbaijan will have a transport connection with Nakhichevan along the sovereign roads of Armenia, and Armenia will have access to Russia and Iran through the Azerbaijani roads.
If over time it turns out that the volume of cargo transportation is so great that the existing transport communications are not enough, then, by agreement of the parties, new routes will be built.
“The working group has painted, drew, studied all possible routes: the Ijevan-Gazakh section, the Berd-Tovuz section, the Angeghakot-Bichenek section, the Horadiz-Yeraskh section, the Horadiz-Meghri-Ordubad-Yeraskh section. And our perception is that we must build the Yeraskh-Ordubad-Meghri-Horadiz-Republic of Armenia railway on our territory, Azerbaijan on our own, as well as highways”, the prime minister said.
About the world
Pashinyan touched upon the statements of Azerbaijan and Turkey that a proposal of reconciliation was made to Armenia, but there is no response from the Armenian side so far. The prime minister said that the peace proposal is not a monopoly of Azerbaijan:
“We ourselves offered peace, we have done it many times. And the statements that Armenia did not react are very strange. Armenia reacted, Armenia declared that it is ready”.
According to Pashinyan, the Armenian side expressed its readiness for discussions, which should take place “within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group co-chairmanship format [Russia, the United States, and France are mediators of peace talks on the Karabakh issue before the start of the second Karabakh war in 2020 – JAMnews], in particular, including settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict”.
When asked why the visit of the co-chairs to the region, which was announced earlier, has not yet taken place, Pashinyan replied that preparatory work is underway. US Co-Chair Andrew Shaffer, who recently visited Armenia as part of another delegation, told Pashinyan about this.
“I believe that there are some obstacles from the Azerbaijani side”, the Prime Minister of Armenia said.
On demarcation and delimitation
The Prime Minister stated that the discussion of issues of a) demarcation and delimitation, b) settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict and c) opening of regional communications are clearly delimited.
According to Pashinyan, Armenia is ready to begin the process of demarcation, but it is difficult to imagine the process of determining the borders, where ceasefire violations occur every day.
“To your specific question, are there any specific agreements, I must answer that, unfortunately, there are none”, Pashinyan said.
The head of government stressed that the maps of 1973, 75, 80, and 85 are mostly copies of earlier ones, but sometimes they still differ from each other. In his opinion, it is important to understand on what basis the demarcation of the borders of Soviet Armenia and Soviet Azerbaijan took place:
“By a map, we do not mean a drawing on paper. We mean its legal justification, because a map without a legal justification does not make any sense”.
Pashinyan believes that the maps that were agreed upon by Azerbaijan and Armenia in the 1920s-1930s could become such a rationale.
About the “3 + 3” format
According to the prime minister, the Armenian government is interested in all the possibilities of regional cooperation. As for the “3 + 3” format, according to Pashinyan, Armenia has already expressed its position at the level of the Deputy Foreign Minister:
“Our position is this: the possible ‘3 + 3’ format should not have on its agenda such issues that we are already discussing in other formats. In particular, the issue of opening regional communications, the issue of the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, and so on”.
The “3 + 3” format is proposed and promoted by the Turkish authorities. It assumes cooperation and involvement of 6 states – Georgia, Russia, Turkey, Iran, Armenia, and Azerbaijan.
According to Pashinyan, if this format brings a new, mutually acceptable agenda, for example, the study of the possibilities of economic transit in the region, then Armenia may be interested in this.
On a possible meeting of Pashinyan and Aliyev
Referring to the ongoing publications in the press about the meeting with the President of Azerbaijan allegedly scheduled for November 9, the Armenian Prime Minister said that there is no such agreement at the moment.
Pashinyan recalled the speech of the Armenian Foreign Minister in parliament, who stated that many formats of negotiations are being considered.
The prime minister again emphasized that he is not against the meetings, but their context, symbolism, and the expected result are important: “If we can fix a [specific] result, we will not refuse the meeting, but we are supporters of the meeting not becoming an end in itself”.