“Should we answer Azerbaijani deputies or not?” – discussion in Armenian Parliament
Response of Armenian Parliament to Azerbaijan
“Armenian Parliament should make a statement that Artsakh cannot be part of Azerbaijan, the NK issue should be resolved on the basis of the right of nations to self-determination,” the Hayastan opposition faction suggested to the Armenian parliament.
The point of the proposal was to condemn a statement by the Azerbaijani Parliament dated November 8, 2022. According to Armenian oppositionists, the “Milli Majlis justified the war crimes of the 44-day war in 2020 and made new threats against Armenia and NK.”
According to opposition deputies, Yerevan’s silence “would at best be regarded as a sign of fear, at worst of consent.” However, deputies of the ruling faction believed was necessary to express themselves in a language understandable to the international community, and a statement prepared by the opposition could only create new risks.
The parliamentary majority, which agreed to participate in the discussion of the draft, still did not take part in the vote. Thus the project was not accepted.
Details of the discussion: what the opposition proposed, what the ruling faction did not agree with.
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What did the opposition propose?
According to the opposition’s draft, the parliament should announce that
- “NK cannot be part of Azerbaijan;
- a factor in ensuring the rights and security of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh is the realization of the right of nations to self-determination without restrictions;
- Baku must return Armenian prisoners of war and the bodies of the fallen soldiers and civilians;
- Azerbaijan must return its armed forces from the territories of Armenia to their original positions, where they were until May 12, 2021;
- the establishment of peace with Azerbaijan should not take place under conditions of the use or threat of force;
- Azerbaijan’s demand for a corridor through the sovereign territory of Armenia is unacceptable.”
“We need to answer Baku,” but how?
The deputies of the ruling majority agreed with the opposition that it is necessary to respond to Azerbaijan, but have reservations about what the response should be.
According to Andranik Tevanyan, the main speaker from the Hayastan faction on the project, with its statement Armenia should convey to the international community where Armenia’s red lines are.
According to the deputy of the same faction Armen Rustamyan, the response statement should
- “submit an equivalent objection to the statement of the Milli Majlis of Azerbaijan,
- be more radical, integral and complete than the reaction of Armenia’s foreign partners,
- correspond to the positions and approaches already expressed by the people of Armenia and NK”.
“Different Ideas about effective diplomacy”
Maria Karapetyan, an MP from the ruling Civil Contract faction, announced after discussions that “an attempt to jointly serve the interests of the people of Armenia and the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh” failed. In her opinion, this happened because they and the opposition have different ideas about “effective diplomacy” and “Armenia’s role in the negotiations”, and the fact that Armenia is committed to protecting the rights and security of the Armenians of Nagorno-Karabakh does not mean that the country can be made hostage.
Karapetyan said that responding to Azerbaijan with “radical formulations is bad diplomacy, moreover it is exactly what Azerbaijan wants.”
“Azerbaijan wants to drag us into a territorial dispute, which is not the Karabakh conflict. For the ears of the international community Baku wants to turn its own and Armenian statements into a noise of mirror accusations and demands, into an insoluble dispute. And then they intend to use this as a pretext for ethnic cleansing in Nagorno-Karabakh and the continuation of the creeping war against Armenia without serious international opposition,” Maria Karapetyan averred.
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“Silence is a sign of fear or consent”
Opposition MP Adranik Tevanyan believes that the statement from the Azerbaijani parliament contains an incorrect, biased assessment of the causes of the 2020 war in Karabakh. Moreover, in his opinion it is dealing with Armenia through ultimatums and blackmail:
“The Armenian parliament is obliged to give an adequate response to Azerbaijan’s statement at the institutional level, because silence will be regarded as a sign of fear at best, and consent at worst. Not responding to Azerbaijan is a bad tradition. This leads the international community to believe that Armenia has nothing to say to Azerbaijan, it has resigned itself to the situation, that it agrees with Azerbaijan’s language that threatens the territorial integrity and security of Armenia and Artsakh.”
“We cannot accept a statement that causes risks”
Eduard Aghajanyan, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the National Assembly, said this from the rostrum of the Parliament. He maintained that “there is political will to make a general statement on behalf of the National Assembly, but it is not possible to reach agreement on a number of fundamental issues.”
“Our main goal is to reverse the cycle of political and diplomatic isolation, to ensure the possible consolidation of the international community around Armenia,” Aghajanyan said.
He believes that in order to achieve this goal, it is necessary, at a minimum, to speak in a language understandable and acceptable to the international community:
“The terminology proposed by the Hayastan faction carries more risks than it contributes to the promotion of the peace agenda of the Republic of Armenia. We, as the authorities responsible for the country, cannot accept a statement containing such risks.”
According to the head of the ruling faction, Hayk Konjorian, the statement should not be a declaration but “a tool for solving some problem”:
“We need to understand what problem this statement solves, what additional value it creates, whether it can harm some processes, whether it can help the official policy being pursued.”
According to Konjorian, these factors were not taken into account in the project proposed by the opposition, and it contains provisions that can harm both Armenia and the unrecognized NKR. And after the completion of discussions, he announced that the ruling faction had decided not to participate in the vote.
Response of Armenian Parliament to Azerbaijan