YEREVAN (Azatutyun.am)—The Armenian opposition and Nagorno-Karabakh’s main political factions on Thursday warned Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan against recognizing Azerbaijani sovereignty over Karabakh through a peace deal with Baku.
Pashinyan signaled his readiness to do so during his latest talks with Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev held in Brussels on Sunday. He repeated on Thursday that “Azerbaijan recognizes Armenia’s 29,800 square kilometers and Armenia Azerbaijan’s 86,600 square kilometers of territorial integrity.”
The total Soviet-era area of Azerbaijan cited by him includes Karabakh. Critics believe that this amounts to recognizing Azerbaijani control of the Armenian-populated territory.
“Any negotiated content whereby the Armenian authorities will agree to Artsakh being part of Azerbaijan, ignoring its right to self-determination, is devoid of legal basis,” read a joint statement issued by nearly three dozen political groups, including Armenia’s leading opposition forces and the five parties represented in the Karabakh parliament.
“Nikol Pashinyan … does not have any authority to make such agreements and promises regarding Artsakh negotiations and the Armenian-Azerbaijani settlement,” they said.
The signatories said that such a deal would run counter to Armenia’s laws and the Karabakh Armenians’ right to self-determination which the United States, Russia and France upheld in peace plans jointly drafted by them prior to the 2020 war. Pashinyan would thus also renege on a key campaign pledge made by him in the run-up to Armenia’s 2021 general elections, they said.
Artur Khachatryan, an Armenian opposition lawmaker, pointed to a 1992 parliamentary act that bans Armenia’s governments from signing any document referring to Karabakh as Azerbaijani territory.
“The people will rise up and not let him do what he wants,” Khachatryan told RFE/RL’s Armenian Service.
Pashinyan’s political allies dismissed the opposition concerns and warnings. Artur Hovannisyan, a senior lawmaker representing the ruling Civil Contract party, claimed that Armenian recognition of Azerbaijani sovereignty over Karabakh would not preclude the Karabakh Armenians’ self-determination.
“That doesn’t mean the people of Artsakh cannot fight for their right to self-determination anymore,” said Hovannisyan.
Pashinyan stopped invoking the principle of self-determination and signaled plans to “lower the bar” on Karabakh’s status acceptable to the Armenian side a year ago. His declaration sparked daily opposition demonstrations in Yerevan that lasted for about two months.
Karabakh’s leadership has also repeatedly criticized the Armenian premier’s statements on the conflict with Azerbaijan made over the past year.