«They shot us in foot»: Pashinyan blames former government for failed Karabakh negotiations
Pashinyan made the promised exposure of former government
Prime Minister оf Armenia Nikol Pashinyan issued another statement in which he blamed his predecessors for the failure of the negotiation process to resolve the Karabakh conflict. “They cut down the branch on which we all sat”, the prime minister said. He announced that his predecessors, having adopted the so-called Madrid principles as the basis for negotiations, delegitimized the procedures by which Nagorno-Karabakh declared its independence.
Pashinyan promised this “exposure” in the parliamentary session hall to opposition MPs who have been demanding his resignation since May 4. Both opposition factions are actually headed by two ex-presidents of Armenia – Robert Kocharyan and Serzh Sargsyan, although they do not participate in the work of parliament. However, the opposition left the hall without listening to the prime minister. Thus, the “exposure” was heard from the rostrum of the parliament, but in response to a question from a deputy from the ruling party.
The expert community categorically disagreed with the prime minister’s opinion.
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“They gave Azerbaijan right to veto status of NK”
Pashinyan recalled that the Armenian narrative has always been as follows: Nagorno-Karabakh has never been part of independent Azerbaijan, it withdrew from the Soviet Union and Soviet Azerbaijan in accordance with the established procedure and following the results of a referendum
On December 10, 1991, a referendum was held in NK on the question: “Do you agree that the proclaimed Nagorno-Karabakh Republic be an independent state, independently determining the forms of cooperation with other states and communities?” 99.89% of the respondents voted in favor of the independence.
On January 6, 1992, the Supreme Council adopted the Declaration of State Independence of the NKR, “legislating the results of the referendum and the previously adopted legal acts on the realization of the right of the people of Nagorno-Karabakh to independently determine their political status”.
According to the Prime Minister of Armenia, in 2007, by accepting the Madrid principles as the basis for the negotiation process, the Armenian authorities “delegitimized” the independence referendum held in NK on December 10, 1991 and “gave Azerbaijan the right to veto the determination of the status of Nagorno-Karabakh”:
“When the Armenian side agreed that the future referendum should be held on the terms of mutual agreement with Azerbaijan, it cut down the branch on which we all sat. If, as we rightly argued, Nagorno-Karabakh has never been part of Azerbaijan, then why are we discussing with Azerbaijan the issue of obtaining its new status? And, on top of that, we are still saying that this should happen on the terms agreed with it”.
According to Pashinyan, the provision enshrined in the Madrid Principles that Azerbaijanis living in Nagorno-Karabakh should also take part in a future referendum dealt a blow to the legitimacy of the 1991 NKR independence referendum. The prime minister explains that in this way the Armenian side “indirectly recognized the problem of legitimacy” in connection with the holding of a referendum in 1991 without the participation of Azerbaijanis.
“The most sensational fact is that the Armenian side is actually the author or co-author of the Madrid Principles initiative”, the prime minister said, without going into further details.
After Pashinyan promised the oppositionists to come out with a denunciation, Ambassador-at-Large Edmon Marukyan commented on the Public Television on what the Prime Minister had in mind. The ambassador explained that by adopting the Madrid principles, “the referendum in Artsakh was actually declared invalid”, an agreement was reached on a new referendum in which the Armenian side agreed to the participation of Azerbaijanis in the same percentage as it was in the days of the USSR.
However, Marukyan recalls that during the referendum of 1991, an appropriate legal framework was formed: “Azerbaijanis did not want to participate in that referendum, and Armenia did not prevent them from doing so”.
Nikol Pashinyan claims that after taking office as prime minister, he was asked many times the question: “Do you accept the Madrid principles as a basis for negotiations?”. To which he answered: “First we need to understand what the Madrid principles mean”:
“I said from this rostrum that in response to my question to the co-chairs: “I am a new person, please, tell me, can Nagorno-Karabakh not be part of Azerbaijan within the framework of these principles?” – they answered after a short pause: “Yes – if Azerbaijan agrees”. By this, they once again confirmed our understanding of the Madrid principles, Azerbaijan has been given the right to impose a veto on the issue of determining the status of Karabakh”.
Azerbaijanologist Tatevik Hayrapetyan described Pashinyan’s “sensational exposure” of the Madrid principles as “another illogical and manipulative statement.” In her opinion, this statement allowed Nikol Pashinyan to score another “victory” over the opposition, “at the same time creating the ground for another defeat for his state”:
“Pashinyan’s goal is “victories” exclusively in the domestic political field. In his speech, Pashinyan made an interesting statement, accusing the former government of “cutting down the branch on which we all sat”. Does he even realize that with his steps he is stubbornly cutting down the tree on which this state relies?
The expert believes that the Prime Minister’s recent statements, including those about “lowering the bar” on the status of Karabakh, “cast doubt on the very existence of Artsakh”. In her opinion, Pashinyan constantly weakens the negotiating position of the Armenian side, providing Azerbaijan with leverage.
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As the Azerbaijanologist explains, the reality is as follows: from the very beginning of the negotiation process, the goal of the Armenian side was “to achieve the independence of Artsakh or international recognition of the results of the referendum on joining Armenia”. In this regard, the principle of the right of nations to self-determination was promoted.
“The Madrid document also indicated the ethnic composition that should participate in the referendum – according to the percentage of 1988, in which the absolute majority, 80%, were Armenians. That is, under the conditions of its implementation, Artsakh could not be part of Azerbaijan, it would be either independent or united with Armenia”, the expert emphasizes.
Political scientist Tigran Grigoryan considers the Prime Minister’s talk about the Madrid principles “cheap manipulation and demagogy”.
In his opinion, the Madrid Document enshrined the right of Nagorno-Karabakh to self-determination and provided the mechanism for its implementation, which is a significant achievement of Armenian diplomacy:
“If there was political will, even at this stage it could be useful. And the distortion of even positions that are beneficial to us for domestic political purposes is nothing more than activity against the state interests of Armenia”.