Pashinyan in the International Arena

Columnist Harut Sassounian
Harut Sassounian

Harut Sassounian

BY HARUT SASSOUNIAN

Last week, Armenia’s Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan made his first appearance at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France.

Pashinyan gave an impressive speech to the representatives of 47 European countries. Even more impressive were the Prime Minister’s answers to their dozens of questions. While his speech was prepared in advance, the questions were impromptu and the answers had to be delivered on the spot.

Pashinyan began his speech by thanking the Council of Europe for repeatedly saving him from being imprisoned by the previous Armenian regime, or reducing his sentence. He was being prosecuted for articles he had published as editor of the Orakir newspaper.

The Armenian Prime Minister then proceeded to recount the impressive democratic advances his country has made since last year’s peaceful “Velvet Revolution.”

Pashinyan took advantage of the opportunity to criticize the PACE members for not supporting the democratic developments in Artsakh. “Nagorno-Karabakh is still not recognized internationally as a sovereign state, but is there international debate on whether the people living there are human beings?” Pashinyan asked.

In response to a question from French Parliamentarian Ms. Dalloz about corruption, Pashinyan stated: “The greatest thing I can do against corruption is for me, personally, to remain outside corruption…The very first thing is that I, my family and my relatives must be scrutinized even more closely than others, and it is very important to me that transparency should be a key aim in Armenia. I will not say that it is 100% successful, but it is leaping forward with giant steps. About 10 days ago a criminal case was initiated against one of my close relatives. I do not want to jeopardize their right to the presumption of innocence, but the fact is that the case is going to be investigated entirely lawfully and impartially….”

Ms. Aghayeva of Azerbaijan asked when Armenia would comply with resolutions and documents of international organizations on Artsakh.

In response, Pashinyan urged “the participation of the representatives of Nagorno-Karabakh in the peace process. It is hard to imagine how we can resolve the conflict without the main party to the conflict being involved in the peace talks and without talking to them. As I said in my statement, we will continue to try to reinstate the dialogue within the OSCE Minsk Group between Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh. Many of you might not know this, but there was a direct meeting between a leader of Nagorno-Karabakh and a leader of Azerbaijan in the past, so there is precedent. Elected representatives from Nagorno-Karabakh were almost always involved in the negotiations. It is said that, that was the case up to 1998, but I can tell you that up until 2018 Karabakh’s representatives were present in the peace talks. Let us not forget that Robert Kocharyan, before he became President of Armenia, was elected president of the republic of Nagorno-Karabakh. Thereafter Serzh Sargsyan represented Armenia but he was also one of the leaders of Karabakh. So Nagorno-Karabakh was represented at the negotiating table throughout the negotiations, and it is our objective today to create the conditions for this dialogue between Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan not to be interrupted….”

Responding to a question by Ms. Tomic from Slovenia about the rights of the LGBT community in Armenia, Pashinyan stated: “Armenia is committed to the rule of law and all citizens have the same rights and obligations in the Republic of Armenia.”

Mr. Aydin of Turkey expressed his concern about Pashinyan’s recent statements on changing the negotiating format on Artsakh under “pressure from the Diaspora and the oligarchs within the country.”

Pashinyan repeated the answer he had given to the Parliamentarian from Azerbaijan, adding that: “I have already explained that we are absolutely not expecting or demanding to change the format. …How do we see the Nagorno-Karabakh issue being resolved without the involvement of Nagorno-Karabakh? The word ‘occupation’ is used quite frequently, but the people who live in Nagorno-Karabakh were born there. They live there, as did their parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and great-great-grandparents – I could go on! How can someone occupy the land where they, their children and their ancestors were born, and where their ancestors are buried? … I recently did something that might seem strange. In a press conference, I publicly asked a rhetorical question: do Azerbaijan’s President and leadership have nothing to say to the people of Nagorno-Karabakh and the people of Armenia? I would like the opportunity to speak to the people of Azerbaijan. I can do that today, but I do not want it to be one-sided and I want to ensure that it is not perceived as an act of provocation. I want to initiate such discourse with government, people and young people. Our agenda is one of peace, and we do not propose to change the format.”

Regarding a question asked by Mr. Ariev of Ukraine on “who does Crimea belong to?” Pashinyan answered: “… We often find that our friends are on different sides of a conflict, and it is hard for us to choose between two friends. We are sometimes forced to make a choice, but globally our choice is pro-peace, pro-dialog, pro-stability and pro-development.”

In response to the final question from Mr. Masiulis of Lithuania regarding whether Armenia would be more pro-European and less pro-Russian, Pashinyan responded: “When I was a member of the opposition, I declared that I did not accept that Armenia or any other country ought to be pro-Russia, pro-Europe, pro-America or whatever. I consider myself to be a pro-Armenia politician. I think that French politicians are pro-France, Ukrainian politicians are pro-Ukraine and Russian politicians are pro-Russia….”

Armenia’s Prime Minister skillfully responded to all the questions and sometimes, cleverly avoided answering them. This was the first test of his political competence in the international arena which he passed with flying colors!

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10 Comments

  1. State of Emergency said:

    Geographically today’s Armenia and Artsakh fall within the boundaries of the internationally accepted continent of Europe. Mainstream Europe has always looked down on eastern and southeastern Europe as inferior and secondary. The historical riverally between the Western and Eastern Roman Empires and the resulting conflicts between the churches finally rang the death knell with the fall of Constantinople in 1453. Today, history is repeating itself. It’s not that the Turkic tribes are, or even were, wiser and stronger, rather they have always benefited from the egoistic western European mentality. The decline and ultimate destruction of western civilization is the result of apathy, ignorance, and indifference by so-called enlightened western Europe. Their failure and inability to protect their civilization by the onslaught of savage hordes has not only resulted in the loss of the outer perimeters of their continent, but now it’s striking at the very heart. The assault will only continue until past history is rectified and those responsible brought to justice.

  2. Վռամ said:

    If Armenia, itself, has not recognized Nagorno-Karabakh as a sovereign state, how can we expect other countries to recognize it as a sovereign state?

    • GB said:

      Վռամ
      If you pay attention to Artsakh flag, then you will get the answer!

  3. Ruben Hovhannisyan said:

    Not sure what exactly the author finds so impressive… And to suggest that he did not have a few dozen prepared responses for these fairly anticipated questions is naive, to put it kindly.

  4. A.Napetian said:

    Pashinyan’s address in Strasbourg showed the world that Armenia is slipping out of Russia’s pocket and gradually becoming one of European independent democracies.

    • HYE said:

      Armenia will always rely on Russia. Without Russia who will help Armenia if enemies attack? the US, France, UK? I don’t think so
      Look at the Kurds they relied on the West and they will be sacrificed again on the world’s altar

  5. ardachece barseghian said:

    Accurate analysis of Mr. Pachinian’s speech, clear and unambiguous. Armenia does not have to go out or get into anyone’s pocket. By historical tradition the Armenians have always respected the cultures and policies of the countries that return this respect to us. Iraq, Iran, Syria, Lebanon the Armenian deputies are loyal and responsible or even in Turkey who will have to understand his interest to recognize his past worthily so that his new generations can live in full dignity without being put on the finger by the World

  6. joe said:

    Great analysis. Armenia and Artsakh is located in a highly strategic important area that separates the west from east and Asia. A proverbial cross roads. What contributed to our national demise was the finding of oil in Baku in 1905. European bankers invested greatly and had a vision of easy extraction and distribution routes, that is WITHOUT ARMENIANS living there. So they propped the Young Turk regime who had rid the Sultan bu 1908, and part of that plan was to rid the Armenians entirely to make oil routes easier.. AGAIN THAT’S WHY TODAY THE USA, GREAT BRITAIN AND ISRAEL DO NOT RECOGNIZE THE AG. Its not just Turks. Please understand that. More importantly however, our ultimate demise comes from our own lack of Armenian Unity. United we Stand and Divided we Fall could not fit the Armenian condition more and be more appropriate describing our plight… UNITY: One Armenia, Artsakh and diaspora is the ONLY REAL answer…Anything less is treasonous and a recipe for future disaster..

    • KEVORK TCHARKHOUTIAN said:

      True it all ends up where the money will come from , and Armenia cannot provide that to the greedy world

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