Pashinyan on the "road to peace" at Biden-hosted Democracy Summit
Pashinyan at Democracy Summit
On March 29-30 the Democracy Summit was held online. This is the second time it has been held at the initiative of US President Joe Biden, and also for the second time, the Prime Minister of Armenia took part. In a speech, Nikol Pashinyan focused “on the occupation of the sovereign territory of Armenia by Azerbaijan and the blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh.”
“What is happening today with the Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh, the blockade of the Lachin corridor by Azerbaijan and the resulting humanitarian crisis is, of course, an attempt at ethnic cleansing of the Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh. And we cannot turn a blind eye to this,” he said.
The leaders of the countries participating in the summit signed a declaration, to which Armenia joined with a reservation on one point. The government explains that it “did not reflect all conflicts and crises.”
The Summit for Democracy was attended by the leaders of 120 countries, representatives of civil society, and international democratic institutions. Russia, Azerbaijan, Turkey, Iran and North Korea were not invited to the event this year, as last year.
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“Road to Peace”
Nikol Pashinyan said that, despite global and regional challenges, Armenia continues the implementation of democratic reforms. According to him, the country has improved its position in various world rankings, including by 7 points in the Democracy Index published by the Economist Intelligence Unit.
“Along with the strengthening of democratic institutions in our country, we had to face aggression against the internationally recognized territory of Armenia in September 2022, which led to the occupation of part of our sovereign territory by Azerbaijan,” he stated.
He also said that Armenia feels “the solidarity of the democracies and a clear condemnation of the aggression against Armenia.” He thanked the United States and other partners who “helped through diplomatic efforts to stop further invasion”:
“Armenia strongly condemns human rights violations around the world, and we must do a lot together to prevent genocide, ethnic cleansing and atrocities.”
Pashinyan reaffirmed Armenia’s commitment to the peace process with Azerbaijan and stressed that the “road to peace” in the region has no alternative.
“Democracy is a continuous work, and we will continue to take on new obligations, setting a new bar for Armenia in the world democratic ranking,” he vowed.
“Does not reflect all conflicts and crises”
At the end of the plenary session, the summit participants signed a declaration. Twelve countries signed it with reservations, including Armenia.
The press service of the prime minister’s office issued a message regarding the item on which Armenia had reservations.
The paragraph, referring to the Charter of the United Nations, states that “all states in their international relations must refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state and must resolve their international disputes by peaceful means.”
However, as reported by the government, not a word was said about the invasion of the sovereign territory of Armenia and the blockade of Nagorno-Karabakh.
The text details the situation in Ukraine and asserts “the need to achieve a comprehensive, just and lasting peace as soon as possible”:
“We demand that Russia immediately, completely and unconditionally withdraw its armed forces from the internationally recognized territory of Ukraine, and we call for a cessation of hostilities.”
The paragraph also calls for an exchange of prisoners of war, the release of detainees and the return of internally displaced persons, including children.
“However, this paragraph does not reflect all conflicts and crises and does not mentionAzerbaijan’s aggression towards the sovereign territory of the Republic of Armenia and the occupation of certain parts of the sovereign territory of Armenia,” the Armenian side announced when signing the declaration.
“The role of world teacher” – reaction from Moscow
Dmitry Peskov commented on Armenia’s participation in the summit, describing it as an attempt by the United States to act as a “global teacher” engaged in moralizing.
“America is already making a second attempt to gather together, under the guise of disciples, a number of countries in order to engage in moral teaching there. Those who want to take part in this lesson are their sovereign business, but here, in fact, very many people see that such attempts to divide the world into first-class and second-class countries are now perceived by many with smiles,” he said.
“An important platform for Armenia” – response from Yerevan
Sargis Khandanyan, a deputy from the ruling Civil Contract party and head of the foreign relations committee, said that Peskov’s words were not surprising.
He says that, from the point of view of the Armenian authorities, the summit was an important platform where one could talk about their problems. Khandanyan did not specify whether Russia made attempts to prevent the participation of the Armenian prime minister in it. He only noted that geopolitical tension is so great that “any action or step taken by one side leads to a harsh negative reaction from the other side.”
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Pashinyan at the Summit for Democracy