“Respect, not recognize territorial integrity”: a proposal to Pashinyan
Vardan Oskanian‘s address to Pashinyan
“The blockade of the Lachin corridor, the fact that our compatriots in Artsakh are on the verge of starvation are largely due to the Prague statement. It has a disastrous effect. Pashinyan made a big mistake, he must admit it and correct it,” former Armenian Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanian said.
In October 2022, another meeting of the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan took place in Prague. It was held with the participation of the President of France and the head of the European Council. As a result, a statement was published stating that “Azerbaijan and Armenia reaffirmed their commitment to the UN Charter and the Alma-Ata Declaration of 1991, according to which both sides recognize the territorial integrity and sovereignty of each other.”
The Prime Minister of Armenia repeatedly stated that he would recognize Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity of 86.6 square meters. km, which includes Nagorno-Karabakh.
“Pashinyan may abandon the Prague statement”
“Based on the current situation, he can clearly say that I tried something, but I see that our opponent is abusing this, I refuse this statement. And today I have the right to do so,” Oskanian said.
The ex-minister sees an opportunity within the framework of international law to abandon the Prague statement.
He says that the Armenian authorities can go for it “without provoking a war.”
“If Armenia changes its position, the attitude of the international community will also change”
According to the former minister, the Prague statement became a serious obstacle to resolving the situation, “no one can do anything to unblock the Lachin corridor.”
“This is being talked about behind the scenes of Western negotiations, it has been openly stated in Russia. They said that Pashinyan’s Prague statement, his signature under it, significantly changed the whole essence of the November 9 statement, and today Russia cannot do anything.”
Without disclosing details, Oskanian said that “many people abroad are doing serious work to change the content of the negotiations, but they are facing the same wall”:
“They are told that the Armenian government has a different approach, it was the Armenian government that recognized Artsakh as part of Azerbaijan, so they cannot do anything.”
Accordingly, Oskanian argues that if Armenia changes its position, then the international community will “drastically and significantly” change its attitude. In this case, the West and Russia “will be able to do something in connection with the Lachin corridor and the blockade of Artsakh.”
On “respect for territorial integrity”
The diplomat explained the difference in terminology regarding respect and recognition of the territorial integrity of another state. He stressed that respect for the territorial integrity of a country already means the absence of territorial ambitions, and “recognition is a completely different matter.”
“Today, many countries have friendly relations, even if they have not yet completed the process of border demarcation. Until it is completed, these states cannot recognize each other’s territorial integrity, but they mutually respect territorial integrity.”
“Signing a peace agreement will not be easy”
According to the former Foreign Minister, Pashinyan “made a lot of promises to Azerbaijan”, but the matter never reaches the signing of the document:
“I think it will be difficult for Pashinyan to sign such a document, because its content has nothing to do with the interests of the Armenian people.”
Oskanian believes that the process may be delayed, and sees certain risks in this.
“The mediators will not be able to do anything, because you constantly promised something to the enemy, but you do not fulfill the promise,” he stressed.
He suggested changing the narrative in the talks, warning that it was “fraught with serious danger.”
Vardan Oskanian’s address to Pashinyan