Armenian opposition: recent Karabakh, transit corridor talks in Moscow 'another shameful defeat'
Members of the united opposition bloc in Armenia consider the trilateral negotiations which took place in Moscow on January 11 another failure.
Vazgen Manukyan, a candidate for prime minister from the opposition Movement to Save the Motherland, referred to the statement signed by the heads of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Russia as “another shameful defeat for Armenia.”
“Armenia did not gain anything from this meeting and was left with nothing on the issue of prisoners. Azerbaijan has once again secured what it wanted,” Manukyan posted on Facebook.
Prior to their visit to Moscow, Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and his press secretary Mane Gevorgyan announced that the return of prisoners is a priority issue for Armenia.
“If it can be resolved, then it is possible for us to sign a joint statement,” Manukyan wrote in a Facebook post before the meeting.
In the aftermath of the Moscow negotiations, the newly achieved agreement had to be further clarified by the head of the ruling My Step faction, Lilit Makunts. Makunts reaffirmed that the question of returning Armenian prisoners of war is still on the agenda, and that the issue is one of the main priorities for the Armenian side.
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How did the opposition respond
Politicians from the country’s opposition bloc believe that with the ceasefire agreement of November 9, 2020, Azerbaijan has already received more than it could ever dream of. The united opposition demands the resignation of Prime Minister Pashinyan who signed this ‘act of surrender’ along with the presidents of Azerbaijan and Russia.
The candidate for PM from the Salvation of the Homeland united opposition bloc, Vazgen Manukyan, said that Baku periodically violates the provisions set forth in this document. He specifically pointed out
– clause one – the parties stop and remain in the positions that they currently occupy, and
– clause eight – exchange of prisoners of war, hostages, and other detained persons as well as bodies of the deceased.
“All this is happening with the help of Nikol Pashinyan and as a result of his failure to act where necessary. On January 11, in Moscow, Aliyev managed to lay the foundation for the implementation of the ninth clause [ed – on unblocking economic and transport links in the region and providing Armenia with transportation links between Azerbaijan and its exclave, the Nakhichevan Autonomous Republic], which is strategically important to Azerbaijan.
There is no doubt that the results of further negotiations on the implementation of this item under Pashinyan’s premiership will only fully satisfactory to Azerbaijan”, Vazgen Manukyan said.
Manukyan insists that during the trilateral negotiations on January 11, Prime Minister Pashinyan should have noted the violation of the first paragraph of the statement on Karabakh, since it poses a real threat to the areas near Armenia’s southern border – specifically the Syunik region, where the border is now being redrawn.
In addition, Manukyan is not happy with the fact that the new document does not say anything about the settlement of the conflict within the framework of the OSCE Minsk Group and the status of NK, which ‘was also a great defeat’:
“And, of course, the issue of detained persons had to be raised and resolved. The trilateral meeting on January 11 and the joint statement that followed it reaffirmed our concerns and proved that Nikol Pashinyan is unable to advance the interests of Armenia and the Armenian people”.
How did the authorities respond
Lilit Makunts, head of the My Step alliance faction, responded to the opposition’s accusations regarding the failure to negotiate the returning of Armenian prisoners of war. Makunts stated that this issue “is and will be a priority for the Armenian side”.
While talking about the trilateral statement signed on January 11, Makunts stressed that it had nothing to do with humanitarian issues and “there is no need to link one to the other”:
“The recently signed agreement is a statement of intent with a specific time frame, and humanitarian actions are aimed at returning the prisoners of war. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and our parliament are doing their best. We have to utilise all the mechanisms at our disposal.”