“We deceived ourselves” - Pashinyan on the status of Nagorno-Karabakh
Pashinyan on peace treaty with Azerbaijan
“The signing of a peace treaty with Azerbaijan will become realistic if the two countries without ambiguity recognize each other’s territorial integrity and undertake not to advance territorial claims to each other either today or ever in the future,” Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said, introducing to parliament a report on the implementation of the government’s 2022 program.
JAMnews presents those parts of Pashinyan’s speech that dealing with Armenia’s relations with Azerbaijan and Turkey, and the status of Nagorno-Karabakh.
Peace with neighbors
The Prime Minister said that, despite all the difficulties, Armenia has “the necessary optimism to talk about the future of the country, to build this future.” According to Pashinyan, the government bears “an exceptional responsibility” especially to those who doubt this possibility, and responsibility to the people can be expressed, in his opinion, only in establishing peace in the region, regulating relations with neighbors, in particular with Azerbaijan and Turkey.
Pashinyan said how realistic and feasible this is has several factors:
“First, the question arises to what extent the actions and policies of Azerbaijan will be oriented towards peace, since the world is not built alone. Second, and this is especially important after the 44-day war, if compromises are reached at the political and diplomatic level, how acceptable will these compromises be for the citizens of Armenia. And how much will citizens allow the practical fulfillment of these compromises, sometimes painful decisions?
Pashinyan did not specify what kind of compromises and painful decisions he was talking about.
He only stressed that the government should explain to citizens what happened and what is happening around Armenia: “When they understand this, they will accept it.”
Conditions for establishing peace
According to Pashinyan, peace is possible if Armenia strictly adheres to the following two provisions in its international relations “today and in the future”:
- The Republic of Armenia recognizes its territory of 29,800 square kilometers, namely the territory of the Armenian SSR, on which it gained independence in 1991;
- The RA has no territorial claims to any other country and never will.
He says that otherwise no one will come to terms with the fact that “we are developing in order to direct this development and strength against others – to expand the territories of our country.”
“Moreover, in this case, the agenda of other [countries] will include the issue of not only preventing our development, but even preventing the existence of our state. And in this situation, no one will help us,” Pashinyan said.
He again stressed the need to create international mechanisms to guarantee the observance of a possible peace agreement with Azerbaijan, as otherwise, the day after signing the agreement, “a war may break out or a new escalation may occur.” He also stressed the necessity of mechanisms for resolving disputes between the parties:
“If the parties fail to resolve the problems associated with the interpretation of the text of the agreement through direct negotiations, there should be an instance that will do this and the decision of which will be binding on the parties.”
“We ourselves proposed attaching maps approved by the USSR to the agreement”
“After the 44-day war in Karabakh, Azerbaijan is in a state of euphoria and intends to take as much or everything as possible. This perception of Baku is fueled by the international situation,” Pashinyan said.
According to him, Azerbaijan is becoming or has become an energy and logistics crossroads, and its importance has increased both for Russia and for some Western countries. He believes that regional stability and peace can become the basis for a consensus between the West and Russia:
“If our region explodes again, at least in terms of energy, this could be a problem for both Russia and the West, with consequences of a different plan stemming from energy.”
He stated that he considers it realistic to sign a peace treaty with Azerbaijan. For this, in his opinion, it is necessary that both countries recognize the territorial integrity of each other and undertake not to present territorial claims to each other. Pashinyan recalled that he and Aliyev agreed on this last year in Prague, and then in Sochi:
“I want to confirm that the Republic of Armenia fully recognizes the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, and we expect Azerbaijan to do the same by recognizing the entire territory of the Armenian SSR as the Republic of Armenia.”
He denied claims from Baku that Armenia refuses to recognize the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan during discussions on the text of the peace agreement:
“We can prove it. We ourselves proposed to attach maps of the Armenian and Azerbaijan SSR approved by the USSR to the treaty as the basis for the territorial integrity of the two countries.”
“The most difficult problem is Nagorno-Karabakh”
Pashinyan announced that during the negotiations on the settlement of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, the principle of territorial integrity and the principle of self-determination were put side by side. He says that in this way realities were fixed that “we did not recognize, but, regardless of our recognition, they existed.”
The prime minister explained his idea as follows:
“The question was raised about the revision of the conditional status “A” of the beneficiary’s right to self-determination, which in theory could mean the revision of this status, and not its change or transformation into conditional status “B”, “A + 1” or “A-1”. And this happened without fixing the existing status “A”. If you raise the question of self-determination, then you are part of something, if you are not part of something, then either you have already determined, or you do not need self-determination.“
The Prime Minister came to the conclusion that the Armenian side “not only created, but also cemented” this reality with its own hands, after which it stated that it wants the status “B” for Nagorno-Karabakh, without publicly accepting the status “A”.
“We have deceived ourselves, the people of Armenia and the people of Nagorno-Karabakh by this. I say this not to blame anyone, but to say that until we recognize this obvious fact and reality, we will never have peace. Never”.
He once again stressed the importance of creating an international mechanism for negotiations and dialogue between Azerbaijan and the unrecognized NKR as a tool for ensuring the rights and security of Armenians.
“I hope the border with Turkey will be opened soon”
According to Pashinyan, an open border with Turkey will serve as the basis for development of “normal good neighborly relations.”
The Prime Minister believes that the probability has increased due to “supra-political, over-diplomatic factors.” He recalled that after the earthquake in Turkey in early February, Yerevan sent humanitarian aid and a rescue team from the Ministry of Emergency Situations, and the Armenian Foreign Minister went on a visit to Ankara.
“Dozens of Armenian flags flying in front of the Turkish Foreign Ministry are not only a ceremonial attribute, but also an amazing confirmation that hope can arise where despair reigns.”
Nikol Pashinyan wants to see the agreement on opening the border to third-country nationals and holders of diplomatic passports happen in the coming months:
“Of course, this may not happen if the new ideas and impressions that have arisen under the influence of humanitarian and good-neighbourly values eventually cool down and fade away, if their influence on political and diplomatic decisions becomes zero. But I hope that doesn’t happen.”
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Pashinyan on peace treaty with Azerbaijan