"Pretext for escalation": Pashinyan on Baku's actions and intentions
Pashinyan on the escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh
On August 4, the Prime Minister of Armenia expressed his opinion on what is behind the escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh. Nikol Pashinyan believes that Azerbaijan is trying to eliminate mechanisms laid down in the tripartite statement of November 9, which put an end to the 2020 Karabakh war. Above all, the goal is to replace the Lachin corridor — the road connecting Armenia with NK.
The escalation in Nagorno-Karabakh began on August 1. On August 3, the Azerbaijani Armed Forces were using grenade launchers and drones. As a result, two Armenian soldiers were killed, nineteen were injured, four of whom are in serious condition.
The Armenian prime minister presented details regarding the construction of a new road to replace the Lachin corridor and expressed his opinion on the actions and possible intentions of Azerbaijan. He talked about the mandate of the Russian peacekeepers stationed in NK, responsible for ensuring the security of the region, in order to clarify “the essence of the peacekeeping mission.”
The main points of the Prime Minister of Armenia’s speech.
- Renewed tension in Nagorno-Karabakh: Yerevan and Baku report
- Shelling in Karabakh and gunfire at the Armenian-Azerbaijani border. What’s happening? Opinions from Yerevan
- Bombshell interview with Azerbaijani expert: “The threat of war is clear.”
“Azerbaijan intends to scrap the tripartite statement”
According to the Armenian prime minister, the tripartite statement, which was also signed by the President of Azerbaijan, fixes three realities:
- the existence of the Nagorno-Karabakh territorial entity,
- presence of a line of contact, and
- the Lachin corridor, which provides passage between Armenia and NK
Pashinyan believes that Azerbaijan is now trying to eliminate these stipulations by resorting to military escalation:
“Azerbaijan, which considered the statement of November 9 its own victory, intends to scrap this statement and avoid the facts recorded there.”
The prime minister declared these facts to be “vital security conditions of Nagorno-Karabakh”:
“Azerbaijan’s current struggle is against these three conditions. We expect that, as stipulated in the tripartite statement, the Russian peacekeeping forces will not give Azerbaijan the opportunity to undermine these fundamental conditions.”
Pashinyan recalled that since Ilham Aliyev himself also signed the document, “for Azerbaijan, these conditions are an international obligation.”
“No new route plan approved”
The prime minister said that at present there is no approved plan for the construction of a new road through the Lachin corridor. According to the tripartite statement of 2020, the signatories (Armenia, Azerbaijan, Russia) must approve a plan within the next three years.
“At the moment we have not agreed to any plan, because we have not been offered a draft. Under any plan it is necessary to clarify a number of important issues, including those related to the supply of electricity and gas to Nagorno-Karabakh, and anything related to security,” Pashinyan said.
Pashinyan considers statements out of Baku “a gross violation of the tripartite statement of November 9.” According to him, Baku is using the issue of a new route to replace the Lachin corridor as a “pretext for escalation.”
He believes it no coincidence that Baku went on the offensive in NK just as Armenia has begun construction of the Kornidzor-Tekh-M12 highway. This highway, “presumably, should connect to the new route of the Lachin corridor.”
“There are questions about the purpose of the peacekeeping operation”
Pashinyan believes that the presence and activities of Russian peacekeeping forces in NK is a key factor in ensuring the security of the Armenians living there. Yet, he says, there are “questions about the purpose and essence of the peacekeeping operation.”
Nikol Pashinyan recalled events that have taken place in Nagorno-Karabakh since November 2020, when Russian peacekeepers arrived in the area:
- on December 11, 2020, the capture by Azerbaijan of the villages of Khtsaberd and Khin Tager and the capture of Armenian soldiers “in the presence and with the connivance of Russian peacekeepers”;
- on March 24, 2022, the capture of the village of Parukh in Nagorno-Karabakh “again in the presence of Russian peacekeepers”;
- ongoing and intensifying violations of the ceasefire along the line of contact
“Instances of physical and psychological intimidation of Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh in the presence of peacekeepers are simply unacceptable,” Pashinyan concluded.
According to the prime minister, it is necessary to clarify the details of the fulfillment of the peacekeeping mission in Nagorno-Karabakh.
He states this was needful from the very beginning, but “Azerbaijan interfered with this process by refusing to sign the mandate of the peacekeeping force in Nagorno-Karabakh.”
“In our opinion, the signatures of Armenia and Russia are sufficient for the fulfillment of this mandate. And if not, then it is necessary to take measures to establish this mandate at the international level or give the peacekeepers a broader international mandate.”
Pashinyan pointed out that peacekeepers are deployed along the line of contact, and this territory has been declared “the area of responsibility of the Russian peacekeeping forces in Nagorno-Karabakh.”
In Pashinyan’s view, Armenia expects that
- any attempt to cross the line of contact in Nagorno-Karabakh will be prevented by Russian peacekeeping forces,
- those Azerbaijani units that have crossed the line of contact and are inside the zone of responsibility of the peacekeepers will be ejected
“Armenia is ready to provide passage between Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan”
The prime minister also mentioned Azerbaijan’s criticism that Armenia has pledged to ensure passage between Azerbaijan and Nakhichevan, but has not fulfilled this pledge.
“We are ready to provide this on any day, but it’s Azerbaijan that does not take advantage of the opportunities we give. Even today we say: ‘Come, cross the border of the Republic of Armenia in accordance with the procedure established by the legislation of the Republic of Armenia’,” Pashinyan said.
He said that since last year, border checkpoints have been operating at several sections of the border. According to him, Azerbaijanis can cross the border, passing through passport and customs control:
“Azerbaijan can cross the Armenian border at several points and pass through to Nakhichevan. We guarantee the safety of this movement. And not only in the Gazakh-Ijevan section, but also in Vardenis, Sisian, Yeraskh, Goris.”
Pashinyan states that Azerbaijan has still not tried to take advantage of this opportunity.
Speaking of new roads, Pashinyan stressed that, according to the trilateral statement, they should be built with the consent of all parties. According to the prime minister, Armenia considers “the discussion of the routes of these roads secondary,” while the main thing is to determine and use legal procedures.
During his speech, Pashinyan stressed several times that on all points of the agreements of November 9, 2020, “Armenia is pursuing a policy of constructive negotiations in the name of establishing and strengthening peace in the region.”