"Armenia's democracy under attack from outside forces" - Pashinyan
Pashinyan’s speech at the European Parliament
“Some pretend not to understand why the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh left their homes en masse. Such questions seem cynical in themselves. The answer is more than simple: Azerbaijan has clearly and unambiguously demonstrated its decision to make life impossible for Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh,” the Armenian Prime Minister said in the European Parliament.
According to Nikol Pashinyan, the Karabakh Armenians left their homes in one week, and this happened “due to the inaction” of the Russian peacekeeping contingent called to ensure their security.
“At a time when 100,000 Armenians fled from Nagorno-Karabakh to Armenia, our security allies not only did not help us, but also made public calls for a change of power in Armenia, for the overthrow of the democratic government.”
Pashinyan emphasized that “another ‘plot’ against the Armenian state failed as a result of the unity of the people.”
During his speech, the Prime Minister touched upon the problems related to the resettlement of Karabakh Armenians in the country, the signing of a peace treaty with Azerbaijan, as well as the challenges and threats facing democracy in Armenia.
“Failed to prevent ethnic cleansing”
Pashinyan emphasized that the “surprised faces” of some representatives of international structures in connection with the exodus of Armenians from Nagorno-Karabakh were unacceptable to him.
He reminded those gathered that he himself warned of the threat of ethnic cleansing in Nagorno-Karabakh for several months in a row, and various organizations and countries made statements, appeals, adopted resolutions on the issue, including in the European Parliament. But even the decision of the UN International Court of Justice did not change anything.
“Honorably fulfilled their duty to receive the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh”
This is Pashinyan’s opinion both about the work of the government, which provided housing for compatriots arriving from NK, and ordinary residents of Armenia, who welcomed them into their homes.
“Our international partners confess that they have not seen a case when 100 thousand refugees entered the country in a week and this country could accept all of them without creating refugee camps and tent settlements.” European deputies applauded after this statement by the Prime Minister.
He also said that Armenia is implementing a $100 million program to support the displaced. He thanked the EU and the countries that have already provided financial aid, noting that the country needs “budgetary support” to overcome the humanitarian crisis.
“The South Caucasus needs peace.”
The Armenian Prime Minister announced that the region needs peace and he came to the European Parliament with this very message:
“There is a need for a situation when all countries of the region will live with open borders, will be linked by active economic, political and cultural ties, with accumulated experience and traditions of solving all issues through diplomacy and dialogue.”
According to Pashinyan, he considers it his political commitment to support the establishment of peace in the region.
“Almost exactly the same scenario of the threat to democracy in Armenia”
Since 2020, Pashinyan said, Armenia has received more than one blow to its democracy, and each time it happened according to a recurring scenario:
“Namely the following: external aggression, then inaction of Armenia’s security allies, then attempts to use war or humanitarian situation or external security threat to overthrow the democracy and sovereignty of the Republic of Armenia – using hybrid technologies provoking internal instability directed by external forces.”
According to him, the most serious of such strikes was Azerbaijan’s invasion of Armenia’s sovereign territory in September 2022. “The last and most tragic” he called the military actions that Azerbaijan initiated in Nagorno-Karabakh in September this year.
He believes that “from the inevitable in many ways ordeals that have fallen to Armenia’s share in recent years, the country would have been simply paralyzed, would have lost its independence and sovereignty if it had not been democratic.”
At the same time, the Prime Minister believes that democracy is going through hard times not only in Armenia:
“The events taking place in Armenia and elsewhere in the world raise the following question: whether democracy is capable of ensuring security, peace, unity, well-being and happiness. I didn’t come here to ask that question, I came here to answer it. My answer is unequivocally yes.
“We are ready to sign a peace agreement with Azerbaijan before the end of the year”
According to Pashinyan, this can be quite realistic if official Baku officially confirms the previously developed principles of the settlement of relations during the upcoming meeting in Brussels. This refers to the agreements that were reached during earlier meetings. In particular, Pashinyan talked about the meeting held in Prague on October 6, 2022, and the Brussels talks organized this year.
The sides, according to Pashinyan, reached the following agreements and worked out the following principles for the settlement of relations:
- mutual recognition of the countries’ sovereignty, inviolability of borders and territorial integrity,
- demarcation of borders on the basis of the latest maps of the USSR General Staff, which should also become the basis for mutual withdrawal of troops,
- unblocking of regional transport on the basis of full respect for the sovereignty and jurisdiction of the countries through which they pass, as well as equality and reciprocity.
He vowed that Armenia “has the will to move toward peace”, but expects that the international community, the EU and the countries of the region will provide support to make this chance a reality.
He emphasized that there was a serious opportunity for a breakthrough in the peace process at the Granada meeting, but Aliyev refused to participate in it.
Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and European Council President Charles Michel held a quadrilateral meeting in Granada within the framework of the third summit of the European Political Community. The President of Azerbaijan refused to participate in this meeting, citing France’s biased position.
“Aliyev leaves ambiguities to put forward Armenia’s territorial claims”
Pashinyan said that the President of Azerbaijan, unlike him, did not declare that he would recognize Armenia’s territorial integrity within certain borders, i.e. on the territory of 29.8 thousand square kilometers. Only recently he made a statement without indicating specific figures. In his opinion, Aliyev avoids specifying in order to put forward Armenia’s territorial claims:
“At the same time, Ilham Aliyev declares that there is no border between Armenia and Azerbaijan, but according to the Alma-Ata Declaration, the administrative borders of the former Soviet republics have become the state borders of these countries.”
The Armenian Prime Minister also called ambiguous the statements made by Baku regarding the maps on which the border should be demarcated.
At the end of this topic, he announced that Azerbaijan puts forward one more demand that has no grounds, namely the provision of an extraterritorial corridor through the territory of Armenia.
“We did not promise to provide an extraterritorial corridor”
Touching upon the topic of the so-called “Zangezur corridor”, the Prime Minister said he had not made such a promise:
“There are analytical studies that Baku manipulates the corridor terminology in order to provoke a new war in the region, occupy new territories of Armenia and continue the blockade of Armenia.”
Meanwhile, he re-emphasized that there is an agreement to unblock regional communications in compliance with the legislations of the countries through which they pass:
“We are ready to make such decisions a day earlier, we are ready to restore the Meghri railroad.”
The Armenian side, as Pashinyan said, calls this program “Armenian Crossroads”, but it can become regional and be called “Crossroads of Peace”. He assured that Yerevan is ready to unblock the highways as well, to ensure the safety of people and goods passing through them.
“Armenia is ready to be closer to the EU”
At the end of his speech, Pashinyan said that Armenia is ready to establish even closer relations with the EU “as far as the EU considers it possible”. According to him, the European Union is Armenia’s key partner and economic ties are getting stronger. The Prime Minister listed the directions of cooperation with European partners: economic and investment programs, reforms in the spheres of education, state administration and the judicial system.
In addition to economic and investment programs, he also mentioned reforms in education and public administration, judicial, police and rescue systems.
“But for the first time, the EU was also involved in Armenia’s security agenda,” he emphasized, referring to the EU civilian observer mission monitoring the border with Azerbaijan.
Pashinyan’s speech at the European Parliament